Stealing time for art in Jakarta
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