It’s quite sunny out there. I am sitting in my new little studio with a cup of milk tea and a wonderful chocolate easter eggs from my friend (Hi, Liloe!). Enjoying the new atmosphere through the window of the Amsterdam Oud-Zuid. It’s April already, another years living on Earth. I am turning 26 today and here I am back to Amsterdam, the city of canals and its unique vibes.
I am a young independent visual artist born in Indonesia and currently living my childhood dream to explore the Earth and draw. It’s such a beautiful-dreamy line, but in this warm platform of virtual artist studio during the pandemic time, how about having a time to take a deep breath and looking back at our beautiful childhood dream? And so on, let me tell you mine. Deal?
When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I always am really into space things and even had a cool DIY space bedroom theme back then. Time goes by and I already in my 3rd year of elementary. Remembered that must be on Wednesday, starting on 6:30 pm, I watched an animation adaptation from Jules Verne book “Around the World in 80 Days”. I was a quite adventurous little girl back then. Taking a small backpack and rides the bus to my aunty’s place during the weekend, hunting to see a beaver with boys at the small woods, cycling under the hot sun until I smelt like the sun or being a monkey in my neighbour trees to steal fruits are just normal things.
Back to Jules Verne, my eyes and mouth were wide open and I felt the natural excitement by seeing this film. I imagine it will be so wonderful and precious to take all those trains, flying with plane, sailing and being from one place to another, walking, meet new people and talking with a different language. Exploring everything with my own eyes. I suddenly had a thought to change my dream a bit, to explore the Earth before flying to the space! I didn’t know how can I create the opportunity for that yet, of course, but it turned into a booster on one of my hobbies, drawing. I started making this robots character from outer space and I called them Space Robot. I got quite a lot of influences from Japanese Animation at that time which we had a lot in Indonesia. The reason why I made Space Robot was simply that I want to have my own character which is related to space and I can play with them (you know, children and its imaginary friend).
Time by time, I really into it and I create two handmade comic books of Space Robot in middle school. My first audience of that books and a live whiteboard drawing performance was, definitely, my classmates. Probably, it was the first time of an “early artist stage” in my life feeling the rejections (What a time, hey you little artist!) I felt maybe they’re right, I am just an alien, maybe I shouldn’t draw anymore. But two to three friends gave me a positive feedback and one of them saying this the way back home after school,
“This is great, Nena! You have to continue this! Let me know if you make another one, okay?”
You know what? That was one of the most beautiful moments in my life!
The little artist grew up. She decided to fly to Europe when she was 18. She was being quite poor and else, trial and error but she passed the storm.
I had confusedness of creating my art back then. What should I do? I am not that good like all my friends in art school.
2015, I recreated Space Robot into an illustration with watercolour and I started making a blueprint of the storylines and journey plans to do a long-term project around the world.
Of course, it was failed at first. Amazingly, hundreds of rejections. Yippeeee!
October 2016, I got a warm e-mail from Roy Andres Hofer, an artist-run gallery from Switzerland who’s invited me to join his artist’s network and after that, it turned into having my first international group show during the Art Basel Week in Basel on summer 2017.
To the Universe with its beautiful pink-purple of spring sky, I can say that my life was changed.
I arrived in Japan not so long after, starting being an Artist in Residence and having my first solo show there when I was 23. When I finished build-up the gallery space around midnight, my friend Alisha (Hi Al, natsukashii ne!) asked me,
“Nena, how do you feel?” I was just staring at the gallery space, having a bit tears and answered her “I feel, grateful.”
The project of Space Robot was slowly getting positive feedback after that. I keep developing the project concept of translating the simple daily expression of human life through the perspective of a robot. In a simple storyline we have these two cute creatures, was accidentally falling on Earth and ended up exploring our planet. The storyline and theme are further developed through the relation of human, nature and their everyday life. It’s a simple social and environment visual narrative that somehow human itself forget about it.
After keep going with it, nowadays, I really am starting to explore the Earth with my childhood robots.
It’s like what I read somewhere :
“Nothing in life comes easy and it takes time to build anything truly amazing”
I want to keep sharing my thoughts through this visual way of Space Robot series, meeting people, having a good talk about it and maybe I can give a little impact on Earth through it. I think it is such a fun “roller coaster” journey before I am flying to the International Space Station one day soon.
To all the fellow artists and fellow dreamers out there, we are all in our own way to share something on this planet. Maybe, we had the same dream to give a little impact, or even some of you already made it. I just want to say, whatever the situation we are currently facing, keep going on in your good way to create and remember, share it.
And to all my lovely friends around the Earth who’s always willing to listen and give a warm support in any ways,
Thank you, danke, arigatou, dank je, makasih ya!
Keep giving a warm hope in your days. Take care 🙂
The little space girl,