Written by Dutch author Gianni Orsini, it is a biography of the Italian artist, which includes the details of Locatelli’s brief yet eventful stay in Southeast Asia during the World War II era.
“The title sounds a little bit poetic. It was actually Locatelli’s own description of Java,” Orsini said in a discussion held at the book’s launch during the recent Art Moments Jakarta fair.
Orsini said Locatelli was once asked about his feelings for Java in an interview. His answer was that he was blown away not only by the beauty of the landscape of the island but also by its friendly and lovable people.
“Java is a paradise”, Orsini quoted Locatelli as saying. “As indeed it is: eternal green under an eternal sun, and the people wearing the sun’s smile on their faces always. Truly, I feel as if in paradise.
”Locatelli's paintings from Java and Bali are by far his rarest and thus most expensive and sought-after works. Orsini, who spent five years researching and finishing the book, said that Indonesian painters, including maestro Basoeki Abdullah, looked up to Locatelli. When holding a painting exhibition in 1947, reporters suggested that Basoeki had been inspired by Locatelli’s work.
Born on April 4, 1905 in Bergamo, northern Italy, Locatelli grew up in an artistic family. From when he was a teenager he helped his father, fresco and decorative artist Luigi Locatelli, in creating fresco paintings in churches.