Whose Canvas: Oka Astawa

Having liked painting since he was a little boy has been the motivation for Oka Astawa to chase his dreams in the art scene despite not being born into a family with an art background. As he grew up, natural issues changed his perspective on the function of art, leading him to pick this topic to help people be more aware of their surroundings. Through EcoKo Green Project, he shows off his works which address these issues and also invites people to make concrete contributions for the betterment of the island.
The theme of your works is nature. What motivates you to present this theme?
Nature is not just about the environment, but is also about culture. Nature is just like a house with its potential and problems. Therefore, I try to show the effects of the clash of these two through my works. The changing of nature has switched my perspective as an art practitioner. Art is no longer an object of scientific study or conventional theory, but also as a way to spread awareness about the environment around us, as well as change social phenomena and cultural realities that impact people.
If it can be described, what are the characteristics of your works?
What can be seen from my work is a form of abstraction. Splashes and melts, which are common artistic characteristics that we normally see in the works of other abstract painters, are also dominant in my works. However, these splashes and melts have been constructed to become various figures in my works, with a variety of gestures that sometimes imply passion, agitation and other emotional conditions. These figures are anonymous; they could be anyone and anything. They could just be themselves, they could be someone else, they could be us and they could even be a representation of nature itself.
Some of your works are presented on an unconventional medium of art like t-shirts. Why do you choose shirts, and how do you combine elements of art with this medium?
For me, t-shirts are a medium close to the clothing trend, and that means it’s popular among young people too. This is one of my attempts to bring my work to a wider audience; in this case the youngsters. What I show here is a visual language which I believe is an effort to expand the possibilities of art appreciation, as well as the spread of environmental issues I share. The interesting part is, those who buy these t-shirts will also get seedlings for them to plant. This is a pattern of communication that I do to strengthen the environment-related message I want to convey to my patrons.


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