Interview with RYOL for “Caught in the Art” | Exhibition on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Thinkspace is pleased to present Ryol’s (aka Ryo Laksamana) new body of work, Caught in the Art in Gallery I.

The exhibition fills the space with paintings that showcase how light is the most fundamental element in the visual arts. Light becoming the experimental medium in Ryo’s new series of oil paintings.

Our interview with Ryol discusses the influence of local street culture on the works, the impact of his friendships, and why boredom is an essential tool for pushing as an artist.

The work within “CAUGHT IN THE ART” explores how light and illumination create a mood. What are a few of your favorite pieces from art history that celebrates the use of light?

Madame Monet’s works, one of which is Women with Parasol. I can see how the painter captured the impression of light and color into the painting in Monet’s works.

As the pieces are playing on the idea of being caught in the act, what are some
moments (that you feel open to sharing) where you were “caught in the act?” Do you think you are a mischievous person?

Some of the works are inspired by street culture in my neighborhood, particularly at red-light intersections. Clowns being apprehended by police and other stories served as inspiration for the visuals.


What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

Because I grew up in my parents’ home industry, I enjoy a hectic situation. Something is missing if I see my studio in silence. Eccha and I have created a schedule from morning to evening that includes all deadlines and other responsibilities.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

I do not have it, but I usually chat with friends outside the studio to exchange ideas, and those conversations serve as motivation for me to work in the studio.

You’ve shared that you enjoy listening to artist interviews and have even met a few artists you admire. Have you adopted any of their practices or wisdom into your studio that you’ve felt have vitally shifted your work?

My first trip to Los Angeles last year provided me with valuable feedback for my current studio practice. Every place I visit gives me a new thing, and I can learn to be better and better right now. Like Kenny Scharf Studio, which was my first studio visit in LA, and he gave me a new pop culture reference, and Obey Giant, which looks like a massive studio, and it looks proper, and I can see the trash of Shepard Fairey’s works and the perfection of Robert William.


Expressions of pop culture are seen within this latest body of work but have become less of the focus of the subject matter; what was the core spirit behind the icons you pulled into this work?

I did not use many popular icons in this exhibition, but I did draw some from the street culture around me. I believe the street culture I encounter around me is a component of popular culture, and I can sense its intimacy firsthand.

The eyes within your work have a sparkling static effect and various symbols. Could you share your thoughts on this choice and if it has any deeper symbolic meaning?

In my previous work, I used a realistic approach to create each eye in my works. I painted the eyes layer by layer to achieve depth, and I attempted to make the eyes in my works more lifelike. However, after discovering the sparkling technique in my working process, I discovered depth in another version after further exploration. This effect creates a lighter, more playful impression while still retaining a sense of depth and mystery.

“The Kitchen”

You’ve shared that boredom with your work drives creative evolution. Do you find that you become quickly bored by various stimuli? How do you keep the creative process interesting?

My boredom, like a judge in a competition, is the best judge to keep exploring my works in the future. I am the most intimate with my works. So I can tell when I am bored and need to do something different.

Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has led you to where you are now.

In this case, perhaps I can say that my friends are my best process mentors.

Photo by Birdman

Exhibitions on view January 7 – 28, 2023

Interview with RYOL for “Ready Known” | Exhibition on view July 9, 2022 – July 30, 2022

Thinkpace is pleased to have presented RYOL‘s exhibition “Ready Known.”

The new body of work reflects his dissatisfaction with reality in comparison to the world he has imagined as a kid watching childhood cartoons. His pop-surrealist artworks are skilfully done, illustrating issues in a patriarchal society, social behaviors, and the fluidity of modern-day gender and gender roles.

Our interview with Ryol discusses the takeaways and curiosities he had after meeting Robert Williams, Kenny Scharf, and Shepard Fairy, along with his fascination with the role pop culture plays in society.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your background and what inspired your artistic pursuits?

I explore a variety of artistic mediums by imitating popular figures from the 1990s and 2000s.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

My latest works are inspired by my observations of visual arts that I come across on social media or the internet. I see a generation of artists who use social media as a means of expression or simply to display their work, but I also see a slight preference for the visual forms they create. This, in my opinion, is a type of information that is quickly transmitted from one artist to another. The acceleration of information will, to some extent, affect the artistic tendencies of artists. Unlike in the past, when there were no social media, information may be obtained more slowly.

Visual resemblance may become commonplace in today’s world, and it may even become a concept in work. In this exhibition, I incorporate that background into the exhibition’s theme. The title of this exhibition, READY KNOWN, refers to popular forms or momentum that I bring intimately and essentially.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

I live in a third-world country. Since I was a child, I have been exposed to Western pop culture, including music, cartoons, fashion, movies, and even food. I also learned a lot about American pop art history. I am going to have an exhibition in Los Angeles, and it makes me difficult to sleep because I am going to hold an exhibition where the pop culture that I frequently enjoy is born. And in this exhibition, I present myself as a consumer of pop culture.

What are elements of Indonesian pop culture that are uniquely Indonesian? Or what is an element of Indonesian culture that has the most global pop culture potential?

Pop culture is a popular culture in a society. I believe that Indonesia, a developing country with aspirations to become a developed country, is culturally similar to other developing countries. And I have my own opinions on popular culture. People in Indonesia are very friendly, helpful, and polite, even though queueing and littering can be a problem at times. Many large rivers are clogged with trash.

We also have traffic jams everywhere. Aside from that, I believe Indonesia is known for its diverse culture and strong traditional culture. As an artist, I am fully confident and ambitious that local Indonesian culture can be enjoyed globally, starting with batik, wayang, and local tropical culture that can be enjoyed as a popular product.

How important is experimentation in your creative process?

My creative process undergoes constant change over a predetermined time period. When I am working, my natural filter is my own boredom with what I have created.

When you were in LA, you were able to meet with a few notable artists who have been influential within the new contemporary space. Can you share what those various experiences were like?

When I met Robert William, I was more triggered when he explained his work process. I also had a brief conversation with Kenny Scharf. He added a new reference to my comprehension. With Shepard Fairey, I am curious about how he manages his studio and how he recycles production waste, such as collecting some production waste that he believes can be reused. They mostly have an impact on their respective portions.

If you could collaborate with any artist within any medium (movie, music, writing, etc.) who would you work with, and what would you develop?

First, I want to be able to collaborate on street art projects in every country. Then I would like to work with fashion designers to incorporate their products into my work. Virgil Abloh is one of the fashion designers with whom I would like to collaborate.

How would you describe the evolution of your artistic expression and work over the last three years? What were you exploring and the challenges along the way that informed the evolution?

I am very interested in popular culture. In the last three years, my creative process has been focused on how to process narratives in my visuals by experimenting with existing mediums such as acrylic, oil, and others.

I went through this process for nearly two years. In a certain point, I began to doubt my ability to explore as long as I was working. Finally, I started to consider the essence of the media, medium, and visuals that I chose and used. As in this exhibition, I believe my works are more significant in terms of medium and visual impact. The challenge that I face in the course of my work is delivering ideas in an essential manner.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/be an expert at?

I want to be an expert on what I am doing right now.

Thank you to those who submitted questions for this interview via Instagram

Interview with Ryol for ‘Reimagined Heroes’ on view at Thinkspace Projects | December 11, 2021 – January 1, 2022

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present ‘ReImagined Heroes,’ a body of work that provides a small taste of what we can expect from RYOL’s upcoming July 2022 debut U.S. solo exhibition

At a glance, RYOL’s paintings are charmingly whimsical; pop surrealist artworks skillfully done in an illustrative style reminiscent of the world of anime. The visual veneer of his artworks camouflages the fact the artist broaches subjects that are in contrast quite contemporary.

Upon closer examination, the subjects this young artist’s works address are far from frivolous. Among them, critiques of traditional patriarchic society, social behavior that is quick to judge others, as well as the fluidity of modern-day gender and gender roles, to name a few.

To celebrate ‘ReImagined Heroes‘ and Thinkspace Projects final exhibitions of 2021, our interview with RYOL explores his experimentation with different mediums and his insight into the soul of an artist.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

The inspiration came from the habits of scribbling on the photos of figures in history books.

Theme: focus on ready-made works initiated by Marcel Duchamp whose a label of a contemporary pop artist. The preference of the theme refers to the inspiration for creation that comes from the inspiration I mentioned above.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

Challenge: I bring the pop artworks to the center of pop culture itself, where the pop culture grows. It’s very challenging because I’m growing up within this pop culture.

As an Eastern person who grew up in the middle of Eastern culture, I’m experiencing today’s global culture. The basic principles of life embedded in local culture have become a culture that I must involve into my area of art.

Well, this is the characteristic of the artwork I brought to the global realm.

In essence, products of pop culture are generated by Western. Regarding this, I have the opinion that pop culture in Indonesia is consumerism. This is the reason why there are some of my works which were made in the form of appropriations.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working on a new body of work?

Starting with the idea that I wanna make, then figuring out the concept. The next step is visualizing. I make the visuals based on the idea and concept. Then I put those visuals on the papers. When it’s in line with what I thought, I just process it on the canvas.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands you use?

My works are divided into several mediums and media. My explorations are independent of the nature of the mediums. For example: once, I explored oil pastels or crayons on paper. After I finished drawing on paper, I glazed it with Watch Paints which  were mixed with quite a lot of  water.

When the works were perfectly dry, the results were beyond my expectation. I also did the explorations on my canvas works. For example: I used raw canvas for oil pastel (medium). The results were different from the paper ones that had smooth surfaces.

There were also some canvas explorations that used transparent methods. Transparent method here is a particular method I applied by laying the acrylic paints with sufficient moisture content layer by layer. This accumulation then formed an object. I also used visual techniques, such as stencils, splashing paints, and many more.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio?

I commonly go home, take a shower, then watch videos of interviews (about artists). Everything relates to YouTube. When I’m bored with those activities, I prefer hunting sneakers.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?

I always look for inspiration. When I am presented with a new canvas or a paper for an upcoming event, I keep searching for inspiration.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

When I’m bored, I don’t think I’m creative. I always find that it’s hard to think of something creative. Moving from this boredom, I’m required not to be in boredom and have to create something fresh at least for myself. One thing I need to say: creating something fresh doesn’t always generate something new.

Where have you traveled to either work on a mural or showcase your work in a gallery space?

When I visited Art Stage, Singapore. It was the first time I saw the works created by the great artists like Yoshitomo Nara and others who really inspired me to always create the works.

Do you have a favorite destination/wall and why?

This question is the same as the friends’ question: if you were given an opportunity to exhibit your works in the big gallery, which would you choose? I answered: I will display my works in the gallery that invited me today, right now. It means big galleries are definitely the good and favorite ones for me.

I thought I should create a good work for every exhibition that will be held today.

Thinkspace and other big galleries are the galleries I frequently see in Juxtapoz Magazine. From this, I just thought one day I would definitely be there.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to show your work/ create murals?

The language of art is the art itself. I have always thought that art is borderless, meaning that art doesn’t need language in it.

Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently?

I think the artist is a soul who has to see things; and fine art is the instrument I used to express my soul. I’m also interested in exporting the elements outside of fine art. I personally get more interesting ideas when I implement them outside of fine art. Once, I thought about making interior designs with my taste and artistic soul. I even designed my own house with my artistic soul. Many things I should be able to do everyday related to ideas outside of the fine arts.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

My biggest challenge in 2020 was there were a lot of big moments in my career, but I fought my fear of exploration. And yes, this year there are opportunities and new possibilities keep coming. This is against the thoughts that I had believed before.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

I’m able to explore the simplest things in my head and turn them into the amazing works displayed in several countries.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022?

The upcoming shows are 3 big solo shows collaborated with several big galleries. The next upcoming project is the labeling RYOL Studio as a company that focuses on producing & branding the side products for the secondary markets. These side products are taken from my own original works.

I will also release some ideas beyond my fine art into an area of design. I named it ORIGINALCOPY as the brand. This is a continuing pure idea of mine, and I will always apply it to products of designs.