From Goa Gajah to Sayan House with Mr. Eddie Hara. We have a little walk, with a bit of sweat under our shirts, and heavy breathing in the midst of the hot weather in Bali. But the laughters of that day will be a good memory for us. It’s really interesting to see and listen to how Mr.Eddie Hara is still very fresh and keeps learning, catching up with the world surrounding him. We can feel his authenticity not only from his visual art but also from his personality as a human in this era. He gave us a lot of stories about his journey, cultures, and differences between creative industries then/ now.
Mr.Eddie Hara, can you tell in short about your first art selling?
It was my Junior High era when there was a bazaar at my school celebrating National Education Day. We got a chance as an art group to exhibit and sell our artworks. I replicated a temple in Tanah Lot and someone bought it. Since then, I feel like, “I want to be a Painter”.
Alas, the process of acceptance as a Painter from my family wasn’t easy. It took some time for my Dad to accept me as a Painter. My Father was a Soldier, and back then we had a neighbour who was also a Soldier but likes to paint almost every day. His life was quite messy and he didn’t have a good balance of relationship with his family. From that, my Father developed negative perspectives about Artist as an occupation. Although I’ve tried to convince him about the success of being an Artists, taking examples like Affandi and Basuki Abdullah, so he can understand and trust that not every Artist is like our neighbour, he kept denying and said he doesn’t want me to be an Artist. Until secretly I registered myself to study Fine Arts in ISI Jogja. But I still feel grateful because I still have strong support from my Mom’s side.
You’ve been living in Basel, Swiss for 25 years. What do you think about the Art Scenes in Swiss compare to Indonesia’s? Do you feel anything in common?
I think the difference becomes thinner if we talk about Contemporary/ Conceptual Art Scenes in both countries nowadays. It’s more diverse, and also has a lot of multidisciplinary exploration. In Europe, a lot of art people are now getting back to the “collective process” for their art-making. If we re-evaluate, a lot of our people in Indonesia have already used this way since 20/ 30 years ago. I’m actually shocked when realising it, and glad about that because the process and way of thinking is getting more similar now.
May we know your perspective about the Digital Art Scene today, like the NFTs, and its impact on Artists nowadays?
NFTs are good to be a new medium that give chances to explore more because it’s fresh and has big impacts. I got a few invitations to collaborate in making Art/ Concept and they will publish it in an NFT kind of way. I’m quite excited and open for it, because I want my art to be felt by any generations. It’s like music. You can see an example: The Rolling Stones band is from the 1960s, but until now a lot of youths still favour and enjoy their music. But not only them. It’s quite common in the Music Industry to have some sustainable bands from
50 years ago which people still listen to their music until today. I want to make that happen also in the Fine Art Industry. It’s not just about keep being a youthful person, but moreover engage different generations to enjoy and feel closure while viewing my Art. We’ll see how it goes, though.
I heard from one of your previous interviews where you said, “Contemporary Art isn’t only about the aesthetic pleasing, but also need to have a strong issue/ message behind the Art itself.” You also hold onto different issues while making your Art pieces. Do you think in the future, you’ll be interested in having a specific focus of one issue to be brought up, or just keep exploring and be aware with different issues around?
I will keep myself open, aware and understand different issues. But for me personally, gender issue will always be brought up in my Art and need to always be talked about. I was born and raised in Indonesia, but lived in Swiss in my 30s. I found huge difference about gender roles in these 2 countries. Especially how strong Patriarchy problems in Indonesia, while in Swiss I learned that both woman and men roles are close to equality. Gender is also about our feelings as a human. So I think we need to ask ourselves back again, “Do we need this? Is it necessary for myself and my surroundings? Do we really need to put a specific gender to a box?”
And what is the role of social media in your life?
I just take the positive side of social media. For networking. My wife sometimes gets confused when we have a random walk at some places in Indonesia, because at least I will be greeted on the street casually like, “Hey Eddie!”, and she will ask, “Who is he/she?”. I’ll later tell her, “A friend from Instagram”. Or like to know and meet people from different social/ economic backgrounds. A lot of them happened because of social media. They are crazy and fascinating at the same time.
What are your thoughts about creative young people in this new era?
I think creative youths nowadays are chiller and more relaxed, but still efficient. Like once, I had dinner with one of my colleagues that handles one of the Art Galleries in Jakarta. We ate, talked, and at the same time they sold 2 big Artworks to an Art Collector just by dealing via smartphone. I mean, in the old times you need to go through a lot of paper works or time to seal the deal. It’s really good to see how youths deal with different situations at the same time.
What do you think are the qualities needed to be a ‘good’ Artist nowadays? Any messages for the young Artists out there?
Don’t feel satisfied too quickly and have that strong motivation while doing your art process. Today’s kid has skills. But because everything is so easy right now and simply accessible, they tend to be easily bored and becoming not interested to do the art process anymore. I feel deep regret to not honing the best potentials and foundation of how one person can be. Consistency is strongly essential to be hold by young Artists out there.
Do you want to try or explore something new in your Art for the next decades?
The urge to explore are always there, especially in collaboration with new media/ people. Actually, I’ve done live painting with a psychedelic rock band many times in Basel and also some big murals in my city. So I really do open my heart and my soul to keep experiencing new different chances in today’s Art Industry.
Now we want to ask you about food and cultures. Any Indonesian food or activities you most likely do until now?
As simple as I need to eat with ‘sambal’, even sometimes I gather with my friends to try different ‘sambals’ from around Indonesia. I really like cooking actually. Sometimes I have routine of buying groceries and then cook for my family after I’m done working in my studio. Cooking for me is one of the most intimate activities that makes me close to the people I care for. I like to cook Indonesian, French, and Italian foods. For Indonesian foods I usually teach my friends to cook some dishes, like ‘Sayur Lodeh’ and ‘Soto’. I feel like from cooking I get cultured.
How’s Bali in your opinion? Any recommendations?
I like Canggu and Seminyak for that international flair of cafes and clubs. And Kuta for live rock music. For a real good gigs or concerts Gimme Shelter in Canggu is the best choice. I adore rock and punk music.
written by Tiarama
photos by Yohan Liliyani