Djunaidi Kenyut

Life was tough for him in the beginning, but it has been the greatest source of inspiration for his art. Finding inspiration from a marginal life, as well as a life in urban society, his art contains stories about living, a view about community and a message about positivity. His works now displayed at ARTOTEL Sanur are no exception. Based on his daily observations of the Ubud market, these artworks show women with baskets on their heads, portraying women as figures who are not only elegant and gentle, but also embody strength and struggle in terms of working. See more of his works at the space until April 15.
I was born in Surabaya. I first got an art education during the Reformation Era in 1997 when I met my friends from an art school in Surabaya. That year, those friends and some artists gathered at Balai Pemuda to create a movement for the reformation. I was still a street kid, growing up on the street to find money and food. Knowing these friends, I found many new things. I then decided to go back to school again, precisely at the High School of Arts in Surabaya. From there, I learned a lot.
Tell us about your art.
Many of my ideas come from the situations around me. So, they are the problems within myself, which I then transfer into canvas, paper or mixed media. Like other big cities, Surabaya is complex as there are many people in Indonesia moving in to find their fortune there. They settle in Surabaya to fight for themselves, and the problems have become appealing to me. These problems can also be seen on the city walls. Those walls record the problems in the city indirectly. For instance, when there is a wall that is close to a pair of lovers, the wall will possibly be ‘graced’ with their names or their feelings. Those things are written on that wall, either using markers, nails or spray paint. They don’t think about the aesthetic aspect as they only express what they have in heart and mind. When a wall is exposed to many people, it then automatically becomes full of words, layering one another. It becomes ‘greater’ when people think that the wall is seen as the center of public attention. Everyone wants to draw, paste or put something on it, and what will happen next is chaos. This chaos is something that attracts me. The wall becomes abstract; it’s not nice to see, but it contains many stories. This experience is what I transfer to my canvas. Are my works becoming like these walls? No. Some works will still be clean. The ‘chaotic’ ones mean that they have complex problems in them.
How would you describe your style?
Many people say that it’s a street art, but there was one writer saying that street art is actually art on the street. So, it’s not street art for me as it has entered art spaces and galleries. However, my art might have some influences from street art. Moreover, I prefer to say that my art is urban as I have become a part of an urban community when I came to Bali and decided to settle in Ubud.
What is art, and why art?
I don’t really understand the meaning of art. However, from my childhood experience when I used to do outdoor jobs and meet many people, what is being said about art is actually something that can make us reflect on ourselves and our problems. From there, we can see that art can actually confront a peaceful aura and provoke. For me, art is a media where I can tell the public about myself. I find my own peace in art; by socializing with many people which then I transfer into my works. Can my work appease people? I don’t think so, if they don’t agree with what the works have. Nevertheless, these works can be the medium for them to think about what is and will be happening.


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