Anthropology professor, Stuart Kirsch, publishes account of the life and work of West Papuan artist Donatus Moiwend
Pacific Arts Vol. 21, No. 1 (2021)
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Donatus Moiwend, the visionaryWest Papuanartist, passed away in 2018 (Fig.1). Donatus Stefanus Moulo Moyuend was born in Merauke around the end of World War II. He was a member of the Maklew clan, a sub-group of the Malind Anim (formerly written as Marind Anim). Moiwend was a largely self-taught art-ist who painted in a variety of styles. He also produced sculpture, adorned churches with his work, and even expressed his artistic vision in the landscape. Noting that there was already a Monet, a Manet, and a Bonnet, he playfully signed his artwork “Donet.”
Moiwend was an active member of the West Papuan cultural renaissance during the late 1970s and early 1980s, which was led by anthropologist, museum curator, and ethnomu-sicologist Arnold Ap. Their activities included the revitalization of West Papuan folk music, dance, material culture, and design. The movement ended abruptly after Ap’s arrest and death at the hands of the state in April 1984 in response toprotests against the Indonesian occupation of West Papua. Moiwend was also detained by the Indonesian security forces at thattime but was later released. He continued to produce paintings and sculpture with polit-ical messages, although henever explicitly discussed politics, choosing instead to communi-cate through his art.