Ageng Wicaksono: An Artist’s Protest Through Ashes
In the heart of Pontianak, a city in West Kalimantan, Ageng Wicaksono, a 27-year-old artist, is using unconventional materials to convey a powerful message. In the aftermath of the forest and land fires that blanketed Kalimantan Barat (West Kalimantan) with haze in August, Ageng turned to art to express his deep concerns.
The Creative Mind from Ageng Wicaksono in Pontianak
Moreover, Ageng Wicaksono, a professional illustrator and painter based in Pontianak, has creativity coursing through his veins. On September 1, 2023, he unveiled a unique creation—a 1-meter by 50 cm canvas he had meticulously crafted at the onset of August.
Upon this canvas, Ageng masterfully depicted a figure with a solemn countenance, employing a palette of black and white. This image symbolizes the countless individuals whose lives were overshadowed by the choking haze. Towards the canvas’s lower edge, a fiery orange hue alludes to the flames scorching the land.
What makes Ageng’s work truly distinctive is his choice of medium. He has incorporated ash from the forest and land fires, locally referred to as “karhutla,” into several sections of his artwork. In certain areas, he ingeniously blended karhutla ash with paint, rendering his creation not only visually striking but also deeply evocative.
A Vent for Frustration
The genesis of Ageng Wicaksono artwork can be traced back to early August when the relentless haze from karhutla engulfed vast expanses of West Kalimantan, including Pontianak itself. The acrid scent of burning forest permeated his room, a constant reminder of the environmental crisis unfolding around him.
As a visual artist, Ageng turned to his canvas as a means of catharsis. “My way of venting was through painting,” he confided during an interview conducted on a Friday afternoon, September 1, 2023, within the confines of his home.
The forest and land fires of August not only engendered the haze but also scattered ash, or “jelaga,” across residential areas. To Ageng’s amazement, this ash even found its way into his own home. It was then that he began collecting the ash in a glass, which would later become a crucial component of his expressive artwork.
“Through my artwork, I sought to communicate my experience and frustration with the karhutla,” Ageng reflected, encapsulating his journey of translating environmental distress into creative expression.
A Three-Day Creation
Ageng Wicaksono artistic endeavor demanded three days of unwavering commitment and painstaking precision. Upon its completion, he proudly exhibited his creation within his home and also shared it with the world through social media platforms. In doing so, he aspires to raise awareness and inspire action to prevent future occurrences of the haze that has gripped the lives of West Kalimantan’s residents.
Although Pontianak, as the capital of West Kalimantan, remained unscathed by land fires in August, the city bore witness to the arrival of smoke and ash originating from afflicted areas. The skies over Pontianak temporarily cleared due to rainfall in the past week. Nevertheless, numerous hotspots continue to plague West Kalimantan. Data released by the West Kalimantan Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) on Friday, September 1, 2023, reveals the existence of 1,270 hotspots scattered across 13 districts and cities within the province.
Ageng Wicaksono artwork, born from the ashes of a pressing environmental crisis, serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of forest and land fires. Through his creative vision, he hopes to ignite a collective consciousness, fostering a commitment to safeguarding the region’s natural beauty and the well-being of its inhabitants. As the haze recedes, the legacy of his artistic protest endures, inviting others to join in the fight against the environmental challenges that threaten Kalimantan Barat.