Steal­ing time for art in Jakarta

Harper's Bazaar Art (Indonesia) - - Art Feature - By Rifda Amalia

When­bazaarart­magazine asked me to con­trib­ute a writ­ing about Jakarta artists, the name Rega Ayundya im­me­di­ately came into mind. Rega is my se­nior at the fac­ulty of Art and De­sign, In­sti­tut Te­knologi Ban­dung (ITB - Ban­dung In­sti­tu­tion of Tech­nol­ogy). The term of a Jakarta-based artist is ac­tu­ally am­bigu­ous. There is no de­fin­i­tive agree­able term and it can be widely in­ter­preted. How­ever, Rega is one of Ban­dung-ed­u­cated artists who de­clares her­self as a Jakarta-based artist. How does some­one get cat­e­go­rized as a Jakarta-based Artist? Must the artist be born in Jakarta? ed­u­cated in Jakarta? or does s/he have to live in Jakarta? How­ever, what is more in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant is, the abil­ity of Jakarta, as a city, to be­come an utopia in the art-mak­ing process of an artist.

even though Rega spent six years in Ban­dung study­ing fine art ma­jor­ing in sculp­ture in fac­ulty of Art and De­sign ITB, Jakarta is an in­sep­a­ra­ble part of her creative process. Rega was born and raised in Jakarta. she left the city for a short time to at­tend art school in Ban­dung, a cool-aired city sur­rounded by moun­tains, and dec­o­rated with ex­otic and as­ton­ish­ing colo­nial build­ings, a place where re­flec­tion and self-con­tem­pla­tion is more achiev­able, at least ac­cord­ing to Rega. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, Rega went back to Jakarta to work as an il­lus­tra­tor at a de­sign agency for two years. As soon as she ar­rives, dif­fer­ent feel­ings to­ward the city sur­faced. she is no longer ac­cus­tomed to the chaotic at­mos­phere of Jakarta. In be­tween her packed sched­ule as an il­lus­tra­tor, Rega found her­self trapped in an au­to­ma­tion mode and found very lit­tle time to work on her art.

In mid 2014, Rega de­cided to con­tinue her study in Mas­ter of Arts at her alma mater, ITB. Although she loved her job as an il­lus­tra­tor, Rega has al­ways have a strong call­ing to be an artist. Dur­ing the first year study­ing in Ban­dung, her feel­ings about Ban­dung had changed and she found her­self sur­pris­ingly miss­ing Jakarta. To Rega, Jakarta - with all its com­plex­ity and chaos - had trained her sensitivity in see­ing the small beau­ti­ful things in peo­ple’s daily lives. Ac­cord­ing to Rega, the com­pet­i­tive­ness and the lim­ited time to cre­ate in Jakarta ac­tu­ally chal­lenges her. In her opin­ion, the time ‘stolen’ to make art is the most lux­u­ri­ous time of all.

Although Rega earned her bach­e­lor de­gree from sculp­ture ma­jor, draw­ing has al­ways been the clos­est medium to her since she was young. Her fi­nal as­sign­ment for the bach­e­lor de­gree was taken from doo­dles on her sketch­books, which she then turned into 3-di­men­sional work. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, Rega de­cided to ex­plore her creative iden­tity through pen on pa­per draw­ing tech­nique. In a glance, Rega’s draw­ing re­sem­bles a pile of corals with com­pli­cated and dense de­tail. Rega’s lines re­sem­bles plants and moss grow­ing on tree roots.

And Then There Were None (2015) was Rega’s first draw­ing done on a large sur­face, more­over, she uses dyp­tich tech­nique which cre­ates a hor­i­zon­tal line split­ting the work into ‘top’ and ‘be­low’. The five high tow­ers stand­ing tall re­mind us of a ma­jes­tic con­trol tower. By the base of all five tow­ers are piles of hu­man bod­ies that look bro­ken, wrin­kled, rot­ten, cut into pieces and help­less. By look­ing closer, we can see the hu­mans are ac­tu­ally at­tack­ing each other, prey­ing on the brains of the per­son next to them, scratch­ing, and mu­ti­lat­ing other parts of the bod­ies.

In a glance, this work shows us the de­scrip­tion of Judg­ment Day, the day af­ter dooms­day, brought by re­li­gions. How­ever, if you look closer through these dis­turb­ing im­ages, the con­cept of apoca­lypse in this work does not re­fer to the ver­ti­cal con­cept be­tween hu­mans and God, but rather to­wards the con­cept of sec­u­lar hu­man re­la­tion­ship. The pile of hu­man at­tack­ing each other in Rega’s draw­ing point out her view that in the end, hu­man su­pe­ri­or­ity is what will de­stroy them­selves and oth­ers, putting aside the detri­ment metaphor of­fered by re­li­gion con­cepts.

The five tow­ers stand­ing tall in the back func­tion as unat­tended tow­ers. Not full of an­gels nor God wait­ing to pun­ish sin­ners in hell. Drawn on white pa­per, the blank space on the work be­comes a neu­tral space, not an at­tempt to

de­pict im­ages of heaven or hell. Rega wants to cre­ate a dis­turb­ing ef­fect to make its au­di­ence ques­tion the essence and re­la­tions be­tween hu­mans and other things ‘larger’ than them.

In her next art­work, Rega’s con­tem­pla­tion shifts to her ex­plo­ration us­ing vi­su­als of corals on the seabed. Her in­ter­est is stems from the the­ory that hu­man be­ing is ac­tu­ally orig­i­nated from the sea. There­fore, re­gard­ing to her, Rega is al­ways un­con­sciously in­ter­ested in com­plex pat­terns and or­na­ments found in the corals of the seabed. Her ex­plo­ration to­wards the liv­ing world un­der the sea rises Rega’s in­ter­est in the im­ages of sea micro­organ­ism crea­tures. she found the beauty and grand­ness in the mi­cro­scopic im­ages of na­ture and the hu­man body.

The care­fully-done pen strokes on The Beauty Of The Mo­ment Is The Beauty of Sadly Lost (2015) of­fer a new imag­i­nary world, an un­in­hab­ited mag­i­cal world. us­ing the same tech­niques, this work in­vites the au­di­ence to shift their point of view. No longer as a know-it-all ob­server through a broad point of view, but min­i­miz­ing their point of view to ex­pe­ri­ence the hu­man body from the other side of the mi­cro­scope glass. Mi­cro­scopic im­ages that are now eas­ily ac­cessed through the in­ter­net make it a unique ex­pe­ri­ence for hu­mans to rec­og­nize their own bod­ies. cells that cover the tra­chea (the tube on the hu­man throat con­nect­ing the mouth and nose to the lungs), eye retina, red blood cells, neu­ron on the hu­man brain, are some of the mi­cro­scopic im­ages used by Rega in her work.

The process of draw­ing us­ing this or­na­men­tal style serves as a med­i­ta­tive process that is plea­sure­able for Rega. she found joy in find­ing im­ages on­line and then trans­forms them through her hand draw­ings, cre­at­ing her own vis­ual iden­tity. “our body is the uni­verse,” says Rega. ex­plor­ing cos­mos and mi­cro­scopic im­ages of the hu­man body leads Rega’s thoughts to how small hu­mans are in this uni­verse and that ev­ery el­e­ment in the world is in­flu­enced and af­fected by one an­other. This art­work is one of Rega’s ef­forts in shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence and con­scious­ness of the world.

Rega can spend quite a long time to cre­ate one work. The Beauty Of The Mo­ment Is The Beauty of Sadly Lost (2015) was fin­ished in ap­prox­i­mately one month, while And Then There Were None (2015) was com­pleted in al­most three months. The phrase “a penny saved is a penny earned” is her mo­ti­va­tional motto in work­ing. “ev­ery­thing done con­sis­tently, though small and sim­ple, can bring a huge im­pact.”

Ac­cord­ing to Rega, the choice of us­ing black and white for her work is her pur­pose to fo­cus on ex­plor­ing pen on pa­per tech­nique and the mono­chrome style. This style gives a sim­i­lar im­pres­sion to the Ja­panese tra­di­tional ink paint­ing that re­quires a high level of fo­cus and con­cen­tra­tion. The same style has also in­flu­enced many Ja­panese con­tem­po­rary artists like Manabu Ikeda, a Ja­panese artist who is also one of Rega’s vis­ual in­spi­ra­tion. De­tail on Ikeda’s work shows fo­cus and ex­cep­tional ac­cu­racy that it takes months to years to fin­ish one art­work.

In find­ing in­spi­ra­tion for her work, Rega takes her own ex­pe­ri­ence that has in­di­rectly af­fected her sub-con­scious­ness. This ex­pe­ri­ence has in­flu­enced ev­ery de­ci­sions in her life. As an in­tro­vert child, Rega used to ques­tion her­self and her feel­ings as a form to get to know her own self. Rega has tried to find an­swers about the world through her own self and this process is strongly por­trayed through her woks.

To­day, Rega is busy pre­par­ing her fi­nal project for her Mas­ter de­gree at ITB. Rega plans to con­tinue to make a ca­reer as an artist in Jakarta while work­ing as an As­sis­tant pro­gram Man­ager in one of Jakarta’s creative spa­ces. In be­tween her daily rou­tine in Jakarta, her works is an oa­sis in the mid­dle of the desert for her. And she hopes to send the same mes­sage to her au­di­ence. young Jakarta artists are a gen­er­a­tion that we should ad­mire to­day for be­ing ex­tremely good at ‘steal­ing time’ to cre­ate a re­flec­tive and con­tem­pla­tive art­work in the midst of an­other pro­fes­sion. like Rega, has thrived in find­ing a fo­cus in be­tween the dis­trac­tion of life in Jakarta.

And Then There Were None

The Beauty of The Mo­ment is The Beauty of Sadly Lost

De­tail of The Beauty of The Mo­ment is The Beauty of Sadly Lost

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