A few days ago, some of my watercolor works have been featured in a virtual exhibition titled “Peace in Chaos”. It’s aim is to raise some funds to fight against COVID-19. I worked on the watercolor pieces during the pandemic. I could’ve made more, but I had a day job.
It’s pretty hard for me to put a conceptual explanation with these, especially because the pandemic makes my extroverted self stressed out because of cabin fever. I mostly use my expressions and feelings when I drew, which I feel awkward about because as a Visual Art graduate I feel obligated to put some deep meaning in it. Of course, my whole career as Lala Nurlala, the artist of Dr. Zone as an Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian/something similar icon who represents being out of place (I should make a separate page about Dr. Zone, by the way), is an concept of itself. So all I had to do was to incorporate Dr. Zone with visual elements of Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian/something similar culture. The biggest element here is waves, because what Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian/something similar cultures have in common is incorporating oceanic waves in their visual dictionary as they heavily rely on them.
During the process of getting my work to the exhibition, I didn’t inform this with the curator. The nature of art is that anyone can interpret it as they like, while the artist’s statement is just the supplement. This is what he had to say about my artwork:
Lala Nurlala, menampilkan figur imajinatif yang ilustratif, dengan dipenuhi motif stilisasi tumbuhan.Dia lebih fokus pada garis dan karakter dari figurnya. Garis seperti sebuah strategi dalam membahasakan ketertarikannya pada sesuatu, meredam dan menyelesaikannya.Empat karya Seris Pandemic: Untitled #1-#4 diikutkan pada pameran kali ini. Figur tokoh pewayangan berkarakter pahlawan atau tokoh penyelamat yang diselimuti oleh motif berbentuk ukel membentuk asesoris, busana figurnya sampai pada backroundnya. Rumitnya motif yang mendominasi karya tersebut seperti rumitnya situasi Pandemi ini. Dalam satu tema itu mampu ratusan karya bersamaan yang dia ciptakan.
Lala Nurlala displays an imaginative figure, filled with stylized plants. She’s more focused on the lines and character of the figure. The lines are like a strategy in translating her interests in something, muted and finishing it. Four of her Pandemic Series: Untitled #1-#4 are included in this exhibition. A wayang character with the characteristics of a hero or a savior who’s covered by ukel in the form of accessories, clothing, and background. The complexity of the patterns are like the complexity of the pandemic. In one theme she can make hundreds of works.Jajang R Kawentar, curator
Now that it’s translated, let’s break down the commentary:
Lala Nurlala displays an imaginative figure, filled with stylized plants.
I would disagree that I was drawing plants, or at least consciously. In fact, like what I said before, I was incorporating elements common in Austronesian-speaking cultures (I will explain further later). I would assume that these were inspired by oceanic waves, because they had to go through the ocean with waves during migration. However, knowing that Indonesia is a tropical country, it can be assumed that a lot of Indonesians have also incorporated plants in their visual dictionary. A good example is the kawung, one of the most common patterns in Javanese batik, which is inspired by the sugar palm fruit. As the result of thousands of years living in tropical greenery, a lot of Indonesians forgot their oceanic roots (this may have contributed to Indonesia’s problem with maritime transport, but that’s a topic for another day).
The lines are like a strategy in translating her interests in something, muted and finishing it.
I don’t particularly understand this phrase, even in the original Bahasa Indonesia version. What I can get from this is that my works express my special interest as an autistic person, and they are. I am obsessed with Dr. Zone and I still am today. I don’t actually know if I enjoy it, however. I know that autistics should have fun with their special interest, but for Dr. Zone I feel like he’s here because of a problem I have with my life. I wonder if I’ll stick with him after my deep-seated problem gets solved. One can only wonder.
A wayang character with the characteristics of a hero or a savior who’s covered by ukel in the form of accessories, clothing, and background.
I’ll just confess here right now, yes, I’ve discovered the Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian/something similar pattern after having designing, fixing up, painting, and inking 68 wayang puppets representing the culture of every province in Indonesia. It’s very tiring, not gonna lie. My autistic ability of picking up patterns noticed how weirdly spiral and wave-like the patterns of the wayang are, even on the patterns of some ethnic clothing. As someone who’s been looking at Polynesian (to be more specific Maori because Jemaine Clement, Dr. Zone’s voice actor, is Maori) patterns, I noticed the same feel from them. They all emulate the ocean, and I felt that even more by visiting the beach and observing the waves as they swallowed the sand.
Apparently they’re called “ukel” which means “spinning” in Javanese and I’m quite fascinated by the term. I will take note of that in future works and studies.
By putting these oceanic patterns (at least the ones I’m most familiar with) on Dr. Zone, I have apparently transformed him into a wayang character. Pretty fascinating. I wonder if I can make Dr. Zone into an actual wayang character and make him perform wayang theatre. But I don’t want to just make him a performer in Javanese culture. I want him to be a performer in all Austronesian-speaking cultures. We’ll just see how this plays out.
As for whether Dr. Zone is a savior or hero, on one hand he is. But on the other hand, I suffer because of my obsession with Dr. Zone. It’s quite complicated, and it reaches spiritual dimensions as well. I should explain this on his dedicated page.
The complexity of the patterns are like the complexity of the pandemic. In one theme she can make hundreds of works.
My mind is pretty busy, knowing that autistic people’s brains are found to be overconnected after all. I do find the pandemic to be very stressful, however.
And yes, I can make hundreds of works involving Dr. Zone, thank you very much. 🙂
The conclusion is that the curator’s judgement is mostly accurate regarding my intentions. Like everyone’s interpretations, his interpretation is valid. I’ve also discovered a new term which is nice.