Talking Heads, an interview with Anwar Djuliadi

by Adi Bachmann

Adi: We often meet at openings of art exhibitions in Ubud. But still you seem to be one of the most mysterious characters in the scene to me: looking but seldom talking. Who are you? What is your background?

Anwar: I was born in Jakarta on July 18th, 1960. Since I was a boy I participated in the art world. I did attend openings, see various exhibitions, and listen to conversations about art – because I lived near the centre of arts in Jakarta und the artist’s neighborhood. Than in 1976 I started to paint on my own. Later I became involved in theater and acting, I studied performing art and also the production of electronic arts. Late in 1997 I went to Bali and settled down in Ubud. I began to paint again, which I’m continuing until now.

Adi: Did you – in between – receive a formal education as a painter?

Anwar: No. My academy was the neighborhood in Jakarta and all the artists around. From early age on I saw and learned a lot from them and did my own paintings. During my time at theaters I had the chance to study human figures, movements and faces – but also about nature and some problems in life. When I came to Bali in 1997 I painted directly on paper or carton – minimum 50 sheets. My daily exercises I did with pencil, Chinese watercolor or oil-pastel-crayons. And sometimes a made the paper myself.

Adi: What happened that made you leave Java and move to Bali?

Anwar: Since I was a small boy I was on the move – resettled – moved … like a nomad. Also my living with some theatre groups caused many moves. I like the style of being small as a natural child, wandering around and create fantasies. I do many things by instinct. And it was an act of adventurous instinct, too, to come to Bali.

Adi: Was this the beginning of your career as a painter?

Anwar: After I arrived in Ubud, my instinct talked to me: In Ubud you must be a painter. The only value I had were the five paintings, I had from my father as a legacy. I sold the five paintings and used the money for living expenses and to buy materials and equipments I did need to paint. Than I had some dreams and set up some goals. A painter has to create paintings and show them to the public. I had the opportunities to exhibit some of my work in joint and solo exhibitions in Ubud, Kuta, Surabaya and Jogjakarta.

Adi: Did you become a professional artist, this means: do you live from selling your paintings?

Anwar: It’s not that easy. But I do.

Adi: Who are your models, heroes and teachers in life?

Anwar: I learned a lot from peoples lives: from my father, until he became a hero and a model for many people. I learned from Mahatma Gandhi’s life and I learned from Musashi, the heroic Japanese Samurai character. And I learned from Putu Wijaja, the famous Indonesian writer and director from Bali, about creativity and the spirit of work and the necessity to foster a broad and unlimited imagination.

Adi: Huge heads – sometimes almost brutal in the manner you worked them out and also provocative in colors and wild brushstrokes – often appear on your canvases. After I went through many of your actual paintings I wanted to name your exhibition in my gallery “Talking Heads”. You immediately agreed on this title. Why was this so easy for you?

Anwar: After a work is completed I never thought, what title it should have. Nowadays every activity, also fine art exhibitions, has to have a title. To me – in the process of painting – my trip already unites with the spirit, and the meaning of the colors, the rhythm and the scratches are parts of dialogue. Now you, as the gallery manager offer a title: “Talking Heads”. I agree on this title for my exhibition: because you are the gallery owner, its manager and you are an artist, too.

Adi: Anwar, you are 51 years of age now – you are not young anymore. What expectations in life to you have as an individual and as an artist?

Anwar: As a child of nature I do hope, that it is right and useful, to live my life as I did until now: by instinct. As an artist I do hope to able to build up a private painting museum.

Adi: Anwar, thank you for your time.

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