August 21, 2016

The journey to Batik - introducing Joko Supriyono

This week I picked up my visa and it looks like my list of things to prepare is getting shorter. My time before leaving is also getting shorter fast and I feel there were so many more things I could have prepare, but I need to keep space in my plans (also the ones in my head) for change, the unexpected and what ever comes on my path. 
A way of working and thinking unknown here, but practiced in perfection where I'm going, so I guess it will work out fine.
For this post I'm happy to introduce a person I'm really really really looking forward to meet. He is married to one of the sweetest, coolest, dearest, most beautiful person I know and he is a talented painter and tattoo-artist. Looking forward sharing with him thoughts about how the artworld and tattoo-scene gets inspired by Batik and how he uses it in his own art. Also I hope to return with a freshly inked piece by him that will be part of my second 'Journey to Batik'. 
Without further ado, let me introduce: Joko Supriyono!

A photo posted by Jekektatto (@jekekyoungjava) on

When did you start making art and tattoos?

Started with tattooing when I was still in school. I was 15 when I made my first drawings on the chairs at my high school. I was already interested in the visual aspects of tattoo's before that, but my family situation made me become a tattoo-artist. 
My first exhibition as an artist was when I was 17 at the Gallery of University Purworjo. I studied art at the Akseri high school for Art and started with the ISI (Art Academy) in Yogyakarta. I couldn't finish it, because I had to take care of my family after both my parents died.

Painting by Joko Supriyono

What inspires you?

I started to paint and draw when I was a child. Figures are important in my work. For my tattoo's I always exploring deep into my mind. I use what I see there. In the world of painting I am not only thinking about freedom. I do like to put into my paintings everything I feel and do: my hiding, happiness, sadness, laughing, everything of life. What I see in myself, I use as an inspiration. It's like looking in the mirror, it makes me learn about myself, about honesty.
One thing I have in mind everyday are airplanes. They bring me lighter thoughts. (I love to Joko's favorite Batik motif is Megamengdun, clouds and airplanes, a perfect combination!)

Painting by Joko

Drawing by Joko

What is your favorite Batik pattern? Why do you wear Batik?

Batik Megamengdung from Cirebon. I like it very much, I'm a big fan of this art-work. For me the 'Megamendung' pattern is like a big cloud heavy above our heads. Since I was little this ornament was many time on my mind, because life in Indonesia can be hard and it made me think of the/my sweat of labor. 
Wearing Batik makes me happy! When I wear Batik it feels good in my brain I feel light. The composition, the lining brings structure. I like contemporary and classic Batik with a combination of colors; especially turquoise, red, black, brown, yellow and gold.

Batik Megamendung

Blouses with Batik Megamendung motif

Batik Megamengdung is next to the 'Parang' motif one of the most recognizable and maybe well-known Batik patterns of Java. When I first saw this pattern, I was really surprised that it was a classic motif. I saw a man at a Pasar Malam and ask him about his modern Batik blouse. He laughed and said it was a traditional pattern rom Cirebon. The big, bright coloured, abstract clouds covering the textile looked like nothing I seen before. 
Of course the cloud shape itself I seen many times, in many cultures and art forms. In Tibetan sand carpets, Mongolian cabinets, Chinese silk and porcelain.The motif is linked to Taoism and the Islamic Sufi in which clouds symbolize the ability to make a comprehensive picture of the world (a birds-eye view), be free and are transcendental.
Cirebon's port Muara Jati brought in many cultures and religions among which were also people from China. 
Believed is that the very modern looking pattern was introduced in the 16th century when Sunan Gunungjati (1448–1568) married Queen Ong Tien of China. Sunan Gunungjati, who spread the Islamic religion in the Cirebon region, founded the Sultanate of Banten, as well as the Sultanate of Cirebon. It is popular in Indonesia to link the origin of a pattern to royalty, so it is no surprise that it is the same with Batik Megamengdung. 
'Megamengdung' literally means mega cloudy. Big clouds filled with rain bring water for the crops and therefor symbolize fertility and the sprouting of life. 
A beautiful symbol that can be interpreted in many ways and I think, is very fitting for a city in which a harbor was so important. Like clouds from the sea bringing the wanted rain, ships brought goods, knowledge and inspiring cultures.

Drawing inspired by Batik by Joko Supriyono

Joko Supriyono with his work

Read & see more: 

More about Joko's tattoo's on Jekekyoungjava on Instagram

More about Batik Megamendung on Wikipedia and on

More about my second 'Journey to Batik' in the previous posts 'Buy a Batik', 'Rasa Nembah', 'The journey to Batik', 'The journey to Batik - Introducing Krisna Murti' and 'The journey to Batik - Introducing Batik Fractal'

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