21 november, 2023
Surabaya, Indonesia. A city of straightforward people, scorching sun and very spicy food. This is the atmosphere of artist Dwiky KA, whose works are essays about science fiction in its twisted and sensitive forms. Coming from the punk and metal scene, Dwiky has taken the extreme base of that music and created his own visual language, which is full of references to Indonesian culture.

What kind of horror films and comics the artist likes, why he is proud of his collaboration with Vans and why he keeps himself in an adrenaline rush — read in our interview.
You were born in Surabaya, a city of straightforward people, scorching sun and very spicy food. Can you give a brief "tour" and talk about the peculiarities of your homeland? Maybe you can recall some memorable incident from your past that is somehow related to the cultural code of Surabaya?
Yes! Surabaya is one of the biggest cities in Indonesia. Surabaya is well known as the "city of heroes", because they have a long story about the world war and the struggle against colonialism, so we will see many historical sites there like a monument or building. This city is very crowded and has a massive multiracial population, very hot temperature in every single minute even at night! Everyone was talking loudly with each other but it's not in an angry situation. As I see, these vibes create a unique identity, that's why the extreme music scene is growing well, so many hardcore and metal bands were born there and I also grew there, organizing gigs, and doing visual art. So if you see my work is too chaotic and extreme, it's a representation of my homeland that I want to imagine.
You started doing illustration in high school on a wave of extreme metal fascination. You didn't play instruments, so illustration became a great opportunity to be part of the scene. Tell us more about this period in detail. How were you first introduced to the world of extreme metal / punk music? What were the triggers? What bands/genres did you start illustrating for?
It started in high school, when I was drawing for my friend’s band. At that time all teenagers in school played death metal music, so I was in the circle. Unfortunately I can’t play music, so I’m always positioned to do the art. By the time everyone in the graduate scene knew me as an artist. Then that era changed to hardcore and punk, then to stoner/sludge, I also kept doing it, even organizing gigs for bands on tour in Surabaya and making flyers at every event related to other underground movements.
When it comes to the visual part of music (no matter the genre) what is important to you as an artist? Describe your process for working on a cover/poster or merch for bands.
For me, visuals and music are interconnected, music can follow visuals and vice versa. However, the important thing is that everything is displayed in a balanced manner regardless of differences in style. For the process, I usually discuss everything about the event/band. So from here we can see what we really want to get. After that I’ll listen to the music, and do a little research to look for artistic elements that fit the story. Finally I started translating everything I had into visuals, from sketches, inking, to digitization.
You've done video art for HO99O9. How did you meet and how did your collaboration come about?
Of course The Cyber God — Instagram connects us! I knew the HO99O9 personnel and became friends long before the video art was made. we’ve talked a lot about racial issues in our respective countries, and we think we have harmony regarding artistic and ideas. 2021 I got connected again at the invitation of our friend Ican Harem (Gabber Moduss Operandi) who at that time was curating video art to be shown at Neo Shibuya, Japan. so ho99o9 and I agreed and created a collaboration. The song created is also very special, produced by Travis Barker.
What band/musician do you dream of drawing artwork for?
Mayhem and Gorillaz!!!
We can feel a strong influence of twentieth century Indonesian pop culture in your works. Old comics, superheroes, characters and local culture. As we know, you even collect old comic books. Why is it important for you to reinterpret your country's heritage and refer to images from Indonesian pop culture?
Comics are a symbol of pop culture in Indonesia in the 60−80s, they talk about many things such as political situations and alternative cultures through graphic language that I wouldn’t know today, I think the style is still very authentically Indonesian so that will continue through my work now. Reading old Indonesian comics is like entering a time machine, while smelling the rotting paper.
Can you highlight a few of your favorite Indonesian movies, comics or cartoons that have influenced you the most? Describe them and tell why they are important to you.
Favorite Indonesian films are classic horror, namely "Satan Slaves" (1980), I can see something very scary without CGI and effects, this is the only scariest film I have ever seen, "SundelBolong" (1981), this film is acted by the Indonesian horror queen Suzzana, some parts of the story are very absurd but terrifying, such as turning food into a collection of live chicks. A very famous scene is Suzzana's gaze, which is now an Indonesian horror icon. For comics, I really admire "Sri Asih", She is a super hero character created by R. A Kosasih in 1954, this character is one of the first generation of superhero comics in Indonesia, the story combines Javanese mythology and fantasy technology so the story is very crazy, like we can seeing a goddess meet a flying saucer or alien.
Movie posters
In 2021, Indonesia's Independence Day, you presented a collaboration with Vans coming out. You became the first Indonesian artist to do a collaboration with this shoe company. Tell us more about this collaboration. How did it come about? What did you like the most?
This is a very impressive collaboration for me. I was contacted by VANS probably 2 years before it was released, and it was quite a long process. I was appointed to tell about the culture that is very close to my surroundings for the theme, and I took the word "JANCOX" which is a symbol of friendship in Surabaya. I am very happy how this word can be attached to shoes that are sold in almost all countries, as the first collaboration in Indonesia to greet the world.
Dwiky KA x VANS, 2021
You also did work for Hysteric Glamour. Can you tell us about the background of this collaboration? How did it happen?
This collaboration is part of the LABRAX exhibition program, I got a collaboration program and hysteric glamor is the selected brand. We made a very special t-shirt, featuring Sadako coming out of the Guitar Amplifier to have fun with extreme music!
Do you have any rituals or something unusual and special related to your current creative process?
Sometimes I like adrenaline, the unique ritual is that I only start working on it when the deadline approaches, like 1−2 days beforehand. Of course this is a bad example, but believe me underpressure is a good trigger!
In the past you had a LABRAX exhibition in Japan. You showed not illustrations, but your analog art and various sculptures. Tell us more about how you created the sculptures. It seems like it was an important large-scale experience for you. Were there any special challenges in "transferring" your art from illustration to sculpture? What were the hardest and difficult parts?
The sculpture work at LABRAX is collaborative work, I work on it with several multi-disciplinary friends, such as electronic artists, sculpture designers. Of course the most difficult challenge is synchronizing ideas and techniques from their respective fields, compromising and dividing egos is something that is very different from how individuals work.
Tell us about the exhibition that is taking place in October this year. What are you presenting at it?
In October I have a sci-fi exhibition at Artscience Musem Singapore. I again created a mythology-themed installation work with a mixture of mediums from electronic circuits and digital art.
What would you like to work with in future? Maybe you would like to try your hand with new mediums?
Of course! I will continue to try new mediums, especially things close to science and technology. Because art is limitless, I want to stay relevant by continuing to explore it.
21 November, 2023