Thursday, February 17, 2011


Here comes Agustian Supriatna on his souped-up Vespa motorbike.
He is bringing his paintings, tied to the side car.

Detail of the bike 

I was visiting with someone at an art show opening in Ubud, when I noticed a young man walk by, dressed in Trash Art style clothing.  Since I used to create the popular "Trash2Fashion Shows" for the City & County of Honolulu's Recycling Department, I hastily excused myself  from my company and made a bee line to him.

"You must be an artist."  I said.
He nodded, flashing me a smile, "Yes, I'm Agus. I paint, I make music, and I dance."
"Well, I'm absolutely thrilled to meet you," I told him, "because I'm a trash artist from Hawaii and I've been looking for kindred spirits in Ubud and I love what you're wearing." 
Check out his clothes.

When I left Bali, I gave Agus all my clothes.
"Do something with it," I told him, "whatever you want and I'll sell it in Hawaii."
He gave me a stash of bags he had ready.  They sold within a week.
Last month he sent another supply of bags.  They, too, sold within a week.  This could be a good business.
Check out some of his bags.

Agustian Supriatna
Artist, Musician, Fire Dancer (Tari Api)

Agustian or Agus as he is called by his friends was born in Lampung, Sumatra, in 1981. His grandfather, Datuk Raja Jaksa, was a well known Shaman. From the age of 15 he wanted to become an artist because he thought it was cool. However, unlike many contemporary artists he has no formal training in fine arts.
In 1999 he set up ‘shop’ in Ubud hobnobbing with kindred souls.

His studio looks like a scrap yard; nuts, bolts, chains, blow torches, gas cylinders for welding and large oil drums sliced into pieces. The paintings on canvass reflect a soul searching for paradise within and the used tyres lying around gives it the feel of a motor mechanic’s workshop. But lurking somewhere in the metal scrap is an installation waiting to be born, exhibited and (hopefully) sold.

Agus’s guru is the universe that teaches him a lesson or two every day.  His inspiration for his paintings comes from images of daily life that he encounters. The metal installations mirror Agus’s endeavor to constantly recycle and recreate beauty from the debris of social excess.

In his words, “Fire dance or Tari Api burns the dirt from my mind, my heart, my body and my soul. It cleanses me time and again. When I play the guitar or percussion, sing or make things with my hands it is a kind of prayer, a prayer to the God which resides in me. It reminds me of my place in the Universe, that I am just a small creature. That I should be happy and content with whatever I possess. “

Last year Agus married Rachel a lass from Melbourne. His daughter Indah (which means beautiful Indonesian) was born eight months ago.

“When I hold my daughter in my arms it is like magic…I cannot describe the feeling, it’s too intense. My wife and Indah live in Melbourne. I will be travelling frequently to meet them. However, I also need to create to make money so that I can buy nice things for my family,” he says while lighting the blow torch to cut away parts of an oil drum to make a ‘art’ door, “Rachel has a beautiful heart and I am blessed for she understands what I am trying to do. I dream for the time we can travel the world together, to see and meet other people and to learn their language, their culture. I want to learn. But for now I have to create this door because it’s in my head.”

His advice to contemporaries, “Don’t surrender to the stomach”; translated it means not to compromise their creative work by commercializing artwork to boost sales.

As one was leaving the ‘studio’, Agus shouted above the rushing sound of the blow torch, “Brother, Bali has a two way door, one must learn how to open it, when to go in and when to go out for many use it like a revolving door and therefore are often caught in it…going around in circles…never entering never departing”.

From  On the Fringe


  1. His haircut is intriguing. What is his price range for his bags?

  2. Highly cool, from the way he looks to the way he ddresses and the art he creates. I especially like his outlook on life: How the burning fire dance cleanses his soul, and making music is is prayer and tribute to the universe and the Creator.

  3. When I still had my Magic Attic art gallery at Aloha Tower Market Place, one of my recurrent problems was how to get my best-selling artists to keep up production. You know how fickle artists can be. I'm just as guilty. So, to answer Melissa's question on how to get one: You can buy them from me as soon as I receive another shipment from Agustian. However, I never know when that will be, nor do I know what kind of bags he 'll come up with. But I will certainly let you know. It's nice that we are neighbors! As for prices, Gigi, the bags range from $25 to $50 each. Let's hope I hear from him soon.