During our stay in Yogyakarta we decided to visit the Tembi village, a javanese cultural center located few kilometers south of town and surrounded by rice fields. The center consists of wooden cottages built in the traditional local style, a small museum, a restaurant and a guesthouse; the staff organizes events and training sessions about javanese art and music; unfortunately no session was planned on the day of our visit, but we spent some time strolling around and enjoying this peaceful place.
We were ready to go back to town when we noticed some paintings displayed in a room, we decided to have a look around and that’s how we met Kim.
Few words about the artist and the technique
Kim Kovac is a 32-year-old artist who studied Art in Slovenia and then arrived in Indonesia thanks to a 1-year scholarship in Solo. She was so enthusiastic about batik that decided to start a new life here and now she makes a living from her creations. We had a talk with her and asked few questions; unfortunately we are not experts so we were not able to discuss technical matters in depth, but meeting her was inspirational anyway.
She told us that she takes inspiration for the subject of the painting from nature and from what surrounds her, but the final result might be different from the original idea. That happens because of the nature of batik itself: depending on many factors such as the multiple color soaking, the wax application to create original patterns etc., you can never be 100% sure of what you’ll create but at the same time you have to be very precise and have a clear idea of what you are going to do in order to avoid mistakes.
Batik creation therefore requires a lot of time, patience, creativity and good technique.
But what is Batik?
This is the way Kim explains the process on her website:
Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth (fabric), or cloth made using this technique. Batik is made either by drawing with wax dots and lines with a spouted tool called canting, or by printing wax on with a copper stamp called cap. The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artist to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, and repeating the process if multiple colours are desired. At the end of the process the wax is removed with boiling water.
A tradition of making batik is found in various countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Nigeria; the batik of Indonesia, however, is the best-known. Indonesian batik made in the island of Java has a long history of acculturation, with diverse patterns influenced by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique, and the quality of workmanship.
After meeting Kim, we visited the Leksa Ganesha Batik Gallery, where we had a talk with Tatang Elmy Wibowo, her batik master. He explained that he’s trying to mix the traditional batik patterns with a modern design and freehand drawing. At Leksa Ganesha they use natural colours, obtained from fruits and plants, but they also use synthetic colors because they are brighter and have more nuances.
Batik art is still work in progress, thanks to the almost unlimited opportunities given by materials and creativity. Maybe this is the reason of its extraordinary worldwide success.
What really impressed us about Kim is that she does what she loves and works as an artist. She had to come to Indonesia to achieve this and to make her dream come true.
Unfortunately being an artist in Europe is very hard and not appreciated enough by society. People do paperwork and focus on earning money; they don’t have dreams anymore or are too weak to strive to make them come true… and even when they try, too often the society takes the wind out of their sails.
This is what we think about our society and is one of the reasons why we decided to quit our jobs and start travelling. We decided to care about our personal satisfaction more than our wealth.