Understanding Natisa Jones
I Wayan Juniarta
The Jakarta Post
Natisa Jones did not speak with big words, nor did she pretend that her artwork was meant to be anything more than a personal recollection. In a country where artists have assumed increasingly varied roles, from social critics to environmental activists to, God forbid, politicians; some have displayed multiple personality disorders, dictating that their art serve grand objectives.
In contrast, Natisa's simple credo is a breath of fresh air.
'There is something so pure and brave, yet humble, about sketching, Natisa says. 'It lives in the moment and is itself unafraid of failure or being 'wrong'. It is vulnerable yet unapologetic. It is a space that allows for error, embraces change and welcomes progress.'
One can be forgiven for thinking that the statement also reflected the artist herself, a soft-spoken young lady who exudes an aura of innocence and curiosity.
Natisa's works are currently on display at Three Monkeys in Sanur, in a solo exhibition that runs until July 29. The exhibition is titled 'Are We There Yet?', a sentence that reminds us of the nagging questions of children made during a family trip, whether long or brief, to a place they may or may not like.
Aristiwidya, in writing the preface in the exhibition's catalogue, offered another explanation for
the title. The cultural observer opined that Natisa's art is an attempt to understand things, each other and life better.
'Maybe through Natisa's exploration and candid expression, we can see a reflection of our thoughts, part of our journey to begin to understand ourselves better. Do you see what I see? Have we begun to understand one another? Life? Are we there yet?' Aristiwidya writes.
Natisa has been drawing before she could read or write, exhibiting her artwork before she enrolled for a bachelor's of fine arts degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She graduated in 2011 and by 2013 had begun presenting her work, both painting and photography, to a wider audience through group and solo exhibitions.
'It gives me limitless freedom to create and express. Drawing, painting, writing ' or whatever the medium is ' has always been my way of documenting the things around me and my way of attempting to understand things better by processing it through creating. It's a space and outlet where I can say something however I want in whatever form I choose and I can't be wrong. I can be disliked, but not wrong.' Natisa said.
The works on display in Three Monkeys are mostly ink and acrylic on paper ' a medium, Aristiwidya pointed out, that Natisa purposely chose to give justice to the speed of thought as well as to allow her to work quickly to give integrity to passing ideas.
The pieces are characterized by themes that are seemingly only relevant to the artist herself ' the very thing that forces the spectator to gaze closer and longer in an effort to comprehend the meaning ' both literal and metaphorical ' behind the works as well as the thought process of their creators.
'I didn't want to capture specific emotions in particular,' Natisa says. 'I just wanted to capture whatever there was to capture at that very moment while I was creating and whatever thought I had in my head. Whatever observations I made that day, that hour, I put on paper. I don't try too much to control what I want to capture, so much as what I feel I have to capture. What is most important to me is staying honest when i draw or paint or make things. Capturing an emotion or thought as fresh and raw as possible ' not trying to make it perfect or polish it. Nothing is perfect, so why pretend like it is.'
Natisa's pieces are dominated by two colors: black and red. In several of the works, the colors added grit and grim to Natisa's bold and spontaneous strokes. In others, they breathe life and vigor into the structure or merge with white to evoke a sense of stillness and desolation.
'Red, black and all the minor colors in between: The colors came when I was experimenting with the first few pieces. They held a good balance for contrast. The series is about process, and documenting and trying to understand the things that happen presently and not focus on a destination or a set conclusion. It's reminiscent of a passing and speed of thought that I try to capture as raw and as honest as possible ' the colors were my way of translating the chaos and speed of thought.' Natisa says.
Most importantly, she stressed, red and black were colors that were hard to ignore when contrast with one another ' the same way that ideas and thoughts are sometimes hard to ignore.
The works clearly speak about Natisa's struggle to absorb the world around her, to gain understanding of the ephemeral nature of the elements that construct that world and to share the tidbit revelations that she has experienced during the struggle with others.
The world, in Natisa's words, is a very exciting, beautiful, frustrating, unfair, place that gives her a lot of material to wonder, appreciate, contemplate, complain, and, therefore, create. 'I think most of all though, the world is a very confusing place to me ' so I create to try and figure it out little by little.'
It is also the world that stores bundles of joyful surprises for an artist as promising as Natisa Jones.
' Photos/ Courtesy of Natisa Jones
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