Photography / Editorial / Print

Indonesian born mixed-media artist Novemto Komo educated and trained as a multimedia designer before transitioning to painting. His first job was as a junior flash developer, using Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut pro as his primary creative outlet. We learn painting came as naturally to him, as being in the water and riding the pacific waves. "I have always had a passion for illustration and street art, practising it during college. The move to paint was gradual. I got more and more graphic and illustration jobs than web design and when I moved to Bali in 2009, I did a lot of surfboard illustration using traditional methods." Not just painting the surfboard, but riding the artwork through the waves, indeed his perfect day would do just that, "for me it would be surfing a longboard on tropical waves in the morning, then painting while having a watermelon. Back to surf just before sunset, eventually riding the board back to the beach." Watermelon? "because of the taste, colour and freshness, that and not forgetting some Polaroid’s to capture the day!"

"When I moved back to UK for my Master's in 2010, I got a studio in a painting gallery, gathering a lot of influence from the people and artworks around me. It inspired me to work with paint more and more." Paint has always held a fascination for Novemto, remembering the first time he saw a painting by Ford-Madox Brown entitled 'Take your son, Sir' which he finally "had a chance to see the original at Tate Britain a few years ago."

Does he miss the waves and home? “I don't think I could live without my family. The need to see them feels stronger now they are so far away. If I had a superpower, it would be to teleport, so I can be in any place in the world anytime I want. I would be able to have dinner tomorrow night with my family in Indonesia, at a moments notice." We hold a strong connection to our family and to our past, "as a kid I always remember I had the same dream during my childhood, not everyday but often. Where I tried to put a big stone into the thread hole of a needle. I knew it was impossible, yet I kept trying." He also remembers placing stickers all around his house from a young age and doodling for hours on end.

Working in acrylic, spray paint and oil pastel, the artwork Screaming depicts a conversation between two people, "where one of them was not being listened to, screaming to be heard." He has in the past done fashion illustration, which also uses bold colour, sweeping lines and often, intricate drawing to depict the clothing.

Finding inspiration from wide ranging art forms, from Picasso to Warhol, Basquiat, modern street art and even tattoo, the style could be described as experimental in nature, as his work is continually evolving. Passion Talk was based on the idea of a lot of people inhibited from talking, "even if it is a good thing or for love. I remember a quote by Gandhi "A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave." We learn that love, cigarettes and coffee fuel his work. A combination of all three may make for a heady, 200 mile an hour view of the world.

Recent works seek to highlight conflicts, injustices around the world and ultimately the failings of the human condition if it can be called that. Celebrate The Death was started after reading about the extinction of animals and their plight. This could be environmental or from poachers, torture and hunting. "I found a lot of online media where these hunters are posting portraits with the animal they hunt, as if celebrating the death of being with pride." The artwork, in replacing human heads with animals, grabs your attention and in doing so, makes the message that much more powerful.

He has exhibited in London, Singapore and Taiwan. Most memorable exhibition? "I guess most of the exhibitions I had so far were very memorable. Finding joy in hearing people's perception of my artwork and their honest opinion. Many times I have listened to their opinion as an observer, most of time they didn't know I was the creator. It feels so good to get appraise or a different viewpoint." What next? "I want to be able to keep doing what I'm doing now and take it to the next level and the next level."

Interview and portrait: Nardip Singh

Artwork images supplied by artist
Copyright © Novemto Komo /

As featured in Unfolded Magazine Issue 15
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