Loosen Up and.. Draw?!
What would an urban professional do after a long day at the office? Perhaps he/she would have dinner and go to a bar to have a few drinks, or maybe go to the gym and work out a bit, or perhaps watch a movie. Who in their right mind would draw to loosen up? Draw? Yes draw, as in making pictures using lines delineated with a pen or pencil.
Yet, if you visit the ruang rupa (Ruru) artist’s community in Tebet, South Jakarta, on a Thursday evening, you are likely to encounter a group of people drawing together. Since around September 2011, a group of artists who usually just hung out at the Ruru shop, suddenly decided to draw together. The original group consisted of Ricky Malau, an illustrator and film actor, Tiffany Ayu Puspasari, a tour organizer and freelance designer, Reza Mustar, a graphic designer of one of the hotels in Jakarta and Djarot Soerdjajie, also a graphic designer, who all felt that their daily routine in the world of art was getting stagnant. As contemporary artists, they missed the activity of drawing manually, using their own hands.
The group decided to call their activity “gambar selaw”. The term “selaw” which is not a known Indonesian word and therefore does not exist in any Indonesian dictionary, was apparently derived from the word “slow” in English. The name does not seem to refer to the pace of their drawing activity, but rather their easy going attitude in drawing. Therefore “gambar selaw” seems to mean “drawing to ease off/loosen up”. When the name is abbreviated using the first syllable of the first word and the last syllable of the last word, as often abbreviations are formed in the Indonesian language, you obtain the abbreviation “ga-law”, a pun on the word “galau”, which refers to “angst” or “the state of being perplexed”, often associated with love relationships. Perhaps this activity serves as a good remedy.
“The aim of the Gambar Selaw activity at the Ruru Shop is to provide an alternative venue to break away from the burden of daily routines, while at the same time giving our hands and fingers some exercise to actively draw again, while sharing drawing techniques and create artworks,” said Tiffany. “We hope to get people drawing manually again. We hope that drawing willl never be forgotten, and remind people that everyone can actually draw. That is one of our campaigns,” she added.
Emerging from just hanging out and chatting, Gambar Selaw has become a routine activity of drawing to ease off and loosen up. It has become a kind of drawing jam session, with around 25-30 participants, comprising of high school and college students, employees of various offices and even professionals from different fields. So yes, some people have started to loosen up and draw!
On occasion, the Gambar Selaw sessions have been held in places other than ruangrupa. Drawing jams have been held at Warung Om Duleh, a simple restaurant serving “people’s food”, located in Tebet Timur Dalam. Recently, they have started to hold sessions at the Bogor Botanical Gardens, drawing togther while picnicking. This might become a routine event, held once a month.
While Gambar Selaw might seem to be very laid back in its organization, but it has participated in various exhibitions and events. In 2011, they held their first exhibition at D’Spice Kemang. Later that year, they showed their work in a poster tribute of the viewing of the Mocca Documentary in Yogya, and the Rrrec Fest at Tan Ek Tjoan, on Jl. Cikini Raya, Jakarta.
Last year, the works of the Gambar Selaw members were shown at an exhibition of illustrations of posters of classical Indonesian films held at Taman Ismail Marzuki’s Galeri Cipta 3, an exhibition of postcards about Indonesia Dance Addict, held at Upstairs Bar, Cikini, and at “Fell in Love with Wrong Planet”, a glow in the dark exhibition held in conjunction with Zeke Khaseli’s album launch at Jakarta’s Goethe Institute. They also held a drawing together session at the home of Pak Raden, an artist and illustrator, and the creator of the Si Unyil television character, and also a drawing together session with children who are living under the custody of charitable foundations at Helfolks in the Mayestik Market in South Jakarta.
This February, the group’s Dear Love exhibition at Blackhouse, Jl. Cililin, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. An online catalog of the exhibition is available: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?al5oytslxvs1g6b. The group has also created two drawing tutorial videos, which can be viewed on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVKp_SG2ZaU & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smvu1n2fRDg
Please note and be aware that the videos might actually be more geared towards loosening up rather than enhancing your capability to draw, but this is the spirit of Gambar Selaw.
So, next time you find yourself stressed out because of your daily activity at the office on a Thursday evening, I dare you to stop by at ruangrupa to try your hand at drawing. Would you be cool enough to give it a try? Who knows, if you are good enough, you will get your drawings exhibited one day!
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