The name Oky Rey Montha is on the rise thanks to his brilliant pop surrealist artworks that blend cartoon illustrations, gothic elements and dreamlike settings. One glance alone at his artwork is not enough as most of his works appear as a single frame plucked out from a comic book. You need to spend a good amount of time marvelling at Oky Rey’s artwork.
We caught up with the young artist, who is also a musician that likes to work with multiple media, and talked about live painting, his creative process, and what he thinks about art in the social media era.
What made you interested in art in the first place?
I was born into an artistic family, especially my father, whose talents I adore. Also, since I a young lad I was already familiar with the wide world of art, like music and performance art. I have always been fascinated with everything that revolves around art and creativity since I can remember.
Tell us about the creative process when you create a new work.
I will develop the idea I have in my head first until I find a point where I have to execute the idea, and I will usually execute the main theme on canvas. Elsewhere, the symbols that will appear on the final work usually I have prepared beforehand, but there is also chance that it will appear along the way.
Explain to us why you describe yourself as a pop surrealist.
I love to imagine and I adore creating cartoon illustrations in my daily basis. So I think that’s why I refer to myself as a pop surrealist.
You are known for your live painting, like the one you did at ARTmosphere for ART STAGE Jakarta. Tell us: why did you take this approach?
Actually, the reason behind my live painting performance is because since the surge of social media and people’s dependency on it, social media users crave for arty pictures without them even knowing the artwork behind it. With this in mind, I tried to get close to the public with live painting approach, like last year when I implemented a Pokémon character in my work. This serves as an invitation to the general masses to come and look at my work and hopefully they will enjoy it, too.
You have worked with numerous media; which one is your favourite?
Yes, besides canvas I have also loved playing music since I was a teenager. I also like literature; I have transformed my feelings and thoughts into songs, images and poems numerous of times.
Explain to us the idea behind your “Toilet Philosophy” work?
I like to psychoanalyse the people around me as well as to analyse myself and the global condition. Sometimes, without a concrete concept I will pour my feelings and thoughts into the canvas and the rest is history, which can be seen in my Toilet Philosophy work.
Most of your artworks have a dark element to them. How do you channel these into your artwork?
My biggest inspirations for my craft come from psychoanalysing my environment and even myself, which I will then translate into my works.
Do you deliberately make your artwork be easily perceived by the masses? Is there any social commentary behind them?
For me, those two things go hand in hand and not the opposite. My idealism comes when my work process covers the concept that I am passionate about. Meanwhile, the commercial aspect of my work has to cover the right target market as well in hope that it will make impact on the country’s art industry development. The main work here is to utilise the market as a platform to express those ideas.
What is the most memorable experience in your career?
The most memorable experience for me is when I started out as an artist. Whatever good or bad memories I have during those time, I believe that each of them tells a story that, in the end, is important for my self-development as well as for the development of my career.
What is your take on social media and art? Can the two work hand in hand?
In my opinion, art has become an item of daily consumption for many of us. There are plenty of artworks that have decorated many of the “hip” places around the country, and these artworks went on to be seen by plenty of people through their social media channels. I think social media has helped the general masses to understand and appreciate artworks more.
Can you tell us about your future projects?
I will be doing a solo exhibition this coming December that will cover psychoanalysis of humans in the social media era. I think it will be interesting to envision the future of this particular timeline.
See also: In Conversation With Farhan Siki