Gula and his characters
As you browse through Gula’s collection, you will find not just pieces but also figures. Every creation breathes its own life through personalities that become characters.
Each of his characters has their values and role in this made-up universe, creating a gentle harmony that flows in every detail and narration in his artworks. The characters work together to build a fun and energetic atmosphere. He hopes the happiness that has been mixed in this lab will make people feel happy and forget about their problems whenever they see the artwork. When it comes to arts and crafts, collaboration knows no boundaries. And when it comes to boundaries, Gula is a visual artist and creative director determined to stretch his way to surpass any.
This is why, from 19 August until the end of this September 2023, Gula has been hosting many arts and crafts enthusiasts to his exhibition, titled The Blue Room.
But first, who is Gula?
Teguh Septian Arifianto, also known as Gula, is a Visual Artist and Creative Director based in Jakarta. A lot of people are questioning his nickname, Gula (Eng: Sugar). He wasn’t inspired by that white crystalline sweet carbohydrate. Because Gula actually stands for Gusto Laboratory, which means Laboratory of Happiness. He hopes the happiness that has been mixed in this lab will make people feel happy and forget about their problems whenever they see the artwork. He conceives illustrations, murals, designs, and crafts for various mediums and clients.
Gula started his artistic journey as a street artist alongside his companions. He felt the strong urge to challenge himself to have a voice through his art by creating artwork on public walls around the city. The characters that Gula has created have been with him from his time in university until now. In a way, it became his escape from reality as it is an easier way of dealing with what he is going through and words that are hard to accept in the real world.
Through his artworks, Gula invites the audience to dive into the emotions and physiology of his vibrant and fascinating visuals that have a deeper layer that builds inside the characters as they hold various kinds of emotions and journeys.
Whereas Taman Hayat tries to build harmony among nature and urban lives, Gula harmonizes these different elements into artwork that brings joy. Our collaborative effort — an attempt to create harmony on its own — has been inspiring to say the least. Gula brought a lighter and joyful spirit to complement our style. In this article too, we want to be able to share that inspiring experience with Taman Hayat readers.
Taman Hayat : What inspired you to create this collection?
Gula : The Blue Room is a response and a reflection of my childhood experiences. This distinctive space that created has become a part of his artistic journey as we take the essential moments and emotions from many stages of Gula’s formative years. The significance of the blue within these artworks is more than for aesthetic visuals, but more as a symbol of Gula’s artistic identity.
Essentially, “The Blue Room” symbolizes a metaphoric reflection of Gula’s inner sanctum—a space where memories, emotions, and artistic expression collide together. The presence of the blue is not just a testimony to artistic preferences, it is also an indication of the intricate interplay between personal history and creative outcomes. This space serves as a medium through which Gula’s experiences, from introspective moments to moments of contentment, come together to create a visual symphony through various shades of blue. With each brushstroke, shadow, and hue, the blue room metamorphoses into a haven for recollections—a canvas where the past seamlessly melds with the present to conjure an expressive narrative by Gula.
Now, “The Blue Room” stands as a newly crystallized stage that encapsulates Gula’s artistic journey. In this space, they are driven by a fervent urge to validate the audiences to their own being and also to those who may have opined that their works tend to be seen as monotonous or naïve. This blue is not only a physical space but also a metaphor that reflects on the new phases in Gula’s creative growth. Through each artwork presented within this blue space, Gula invites the audience into his artistic visions and imaginations. The engagement of the audience with every detail and nuance of these creations is an integral facet of Gula’s efforts to intensify the communicative resonance between the artwork and the recipient of its message. Through the concepts and artworks showcased in “The Blue Room,” Gula wants to express that his creations hold a deep significance far beyond what initial comments may suggest.
Taman Hayat : Who or which brands are you collaborating with for this exhibition?
Gula : In this exhibition, I want to show I far I can stretch my creations. That’s why I invited some friends from different disciplines to collaborate, including Taman Hayat and Normal Living. What I expected was to create a novel and unique artwork that I find practical.
Taman Hayat : Why choose Taman Hayat?
Gula : I’ve known Taman Hayat for quite a long time already, because one of the founders, Monic, is an old friend from my past job. It has been delightful to see Taman Hayat develop from the beginning to the present time, the message Taman Hayat brings inspires me a lot. I also find your product explorations to be well-detailed and well-designed. Taman Hayat was top of mind for me when I did some explorations myself around planters and ceramics as part of The Blue Room exhibition.
Taman Hayat : Can you expand more about your collaboration with Taman Hayat? What is the message behind this collection?
Gula : In this collaboration, I made 3 series of planters, The Head, The Sketch, and The Views.
The Head represents imagination and new ideas. The Sketch conveys processes and traditions in crafts. The Views represents perspectives on crafts itself. And since planters are spaces of growth, we aspire for these creations to grow along with it.
Taman Hayat : What does the creative process look like? Is this the first art exploration with ceramics?
Gula : Yes, this is my first exploration of ceramics. The process was fun! Of course, it started with a brainstorming session with the Taman Hayat team, seeing how far we could take the product given the time. From that point, we make a sketch and the design. Then we discuss further before finally processing the idea into full-fledged planters. Once all that was done, I responded by painting over the planters.
Taman Hayat : What is your impression on ceramics explorations?
Gula : Enjoyable! A new experience for me and has broadened my understanding of ceramic pottery itself, from A to Z. The challenge here is probably how to combine my crafts that are more on the “pop” side with Taman Hayat’s items that are more earthy. We needed to meet in the middle. Other than that, the output brings an unpredictable element of surprise. That’s where the fun is for me!
Fun as it was for Gula and Taman Hayat, we want this artwork to be equally enjoyable for you. If you haven’t already, pay a visit to Rachel Gallery at Wisma Geha, 3rd Floor or The Collectors Lounge, Plaza Senayan level 1! You might just be able to bring home one of these unique pieces!