Post C: Yogyakartan Street Art


by Marcella Cheng

Our group mural project in Kali Code was the first time any of us had ever used spray paint in our art-making, and so we were relieved to have been given the assistance of a young Yogyakartan street artist by the name of Mosaif. While he seemed mostly amused at our clumsy attempts, he was always more than happy to help clean up our continuously dripping mural and to answer any questions I had.

As it turned out, Mosaif had been painting since he was young, for about ten years or so, since his high school and university days. He said that most of the street artists start out young like him, just quickly tagging walls to slowly master the spray can. It was interesting to find out this bit of information, as the attitudes towards “graffiti” in Australia tend to be extremely negative and usually illegal. While we would consider young street artists as vandals, Mosaif described the activity as a fun trend and a popular way for the youth to express themselves. This was another reason why street art was more prevalent in Yoygyakarta than Jakarta, he explained, as there was far more youth here.


Upon researching, this should hardly be surprising as the street art trend can be tracked back as early as 1998, where political graffiti first emerged mostly from student movements during the Reformasi era. In a time of great political upheaval, it is easy to understand how young people especially would have found “putting spray-can nozzle to wall” as a way to engage in political “self-expression and national identification”, a way to claim their city (Lee, 2013). Lee continues to unravel street art as a form of communication between people of all classes, where anyone could read or view the visual protests and in turn, draw their own response. These wall murals have become “an omnipresent feature of New Indonesia’s urban landscape” that Wilson describes as having a “strong social consciousness interlaced with humour… a bold aesthetic and strong commitment to craft” that could only come from the voices of Indonesian youth.

Another reason why street art is far more popular in Indonesia than Australia, for example, is the incredibly cheap prices of the materials. Even I was shocked, when Mosaif took me to the paint store, that the prices per can averaged from 13000rp to 5500rp (which is $1 – $5 AUD)! When we compared these prices to Australia’s, which averaged $10 per can, as well as the lack of walls to even paint in Sydney, it’s no wonder the art form seems to flourish in Yogya.


All photographs by me (Marcella Cheng)

Mosaif, February 2, 2017, interview

Lee, D 2013, ”Anybody Can Do It’: Aesthetic Empowerment, Urban Citizenship, and the Naturalization of Indonesian Graffiti and Street Art’, City & Society, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 304-327

Wilson, M. 2003, Sama-Sama/Together, viewed 13 February 2017,
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Pikir Tentang Anak Mu

By Marcella Cheng, Jennifer Kim and Miyoung Kang

Kampung Code, once an “urban slum” now dubbed as “Yogyakarta’s Rio de Janeiro”, is famous for its brightly coloured homes that stand out spectacularly on the banks of Kali Code. These vividly coloured roofs have often become a platform for many advertising companies to take advantage of, including cigarette factories, but now have been subverted in a colourful Anti-Smoking campaign that we were proud to be a part of. The project started on Monday the 30th of January, until opening night on Saturday, the 4th of February. Our project was to design and paint a wall mural to fit in with and as an artistic response to the campaign.

The wall itself spanned about 1.5m x 2m. We aimed to design something bright and eye-catching, yet fitting with the other murals that were in the vicinity. Most importantly, the mural would have to clearly and strongly convey our anti-smoking message. Our greatest concern was being able to design something simple enough to be able to produce, as this was the first time any of us were going to be using spray paint as a medium. What we came up with had to be strong in its message, yet at the same time, not so revolting as it was going to be a permanent addition among the villagers’ homes.


The two people who were most influential in our project were two artists; Koma and his assistant Mosaif. Koma is a talented graffiti artist from Jakarta who has worked in various fields of graffiti world wide and has led an innovative design movement in his field using comic illustration. In Kali Code, he painted the roofs and walls of the village with vivid anti-smoking murals, and was our inspiration and guide for our work. However, it was his assistant, Mosaif, that helped us the most with our work. While he was officially there as Koma’s assistant, he spend many hours with us, even taking us to the paint shop and helping clean up our mural.

It was interesting to find that while most countries regard wall painting without permission of the proprietor as the destruction of the arts or an act of vandalism, graffiti and mural painting is actually permitted in most streets of Yogyakarta legally, and the government even encourages the autonomous participation of artists (Yogyantaro, 2017). For example, we often encountered murals in every corner of the city, which was also a source of inspiration for us.

(Rough Photoshopped sketch)

After many iterations, we eventually decided on a cartoon-like design that Jennifer drew, featuring a grotesque adult smoker suffocating their child with passive smoking. This illustration style was agreed to be the most fitting with Koma’s mural style, although still being uniquely different. The bright, eye-catching colours and cartoon style aims to attract youth and younger audiences, who most easily fall into the smoking culture in Indonesia. This was combined the words “Pikir tentang anak mu”, which translate to “Think about your children.” We agreed that the effect of smoking on their children or loved ones was a significant factor that often helped smokers to at least think about quitting, and that this was we were going to focus on.

Transferring our design onto the wall was a different problem altogether. By using different caps on the the spray cans, we could control hardness, sizes, thickness, consistency, compatibility and also patterns as well. Using all of them created different linework and gave hierarchy to our design. The spray cans themselves ranged from about 13000 to 55000rp ($1.3 – $5.5 AUD) each, with the most expensive being the flurouscent colours. Mosaif mentioned that it was these incredibly cheap prices that made street art so popular amongst the youth in Yogya (compared to Sydney, where the cans average about $10 or $12 each).


Overall, this was an amazing opportunity and project to work on. It was really interesting to see the Anti-Smoking campaign come to life in Kali Code and to see our work in practice. One of the best things that came out of this project was meeting and working with professional Indonesian artists, whose work was not only incredible to watch, but also a great inspiration to us all. Learning about and immersing ourselves in their culture and art, within the village of Kali Code was crucial in understanding the way the local context shapes design. For us, it was also a great opportunity to design this mural in response to their work, and to show an alternate way of illustrating the same message. It was fun to dip into an art style and medium we have never tried before, but is so central to Yogyakartan street art, and a great way to experience the local design culture.



Koma_Indo, 2017, Koma (@koma_indo), Instagram photos and videos, viewed 09 February 2017, <;., Indonesian street arts, viewed 09 February 2017, .

Linda, P. Untitled,, viewed 4 March 2014, .

Diply. Heart Waffle Iron,, viewed 4 March 2014, .

BHa, P. Graffiti font,, viewed 4 March 2014, .

Kang, M. Kim, Gguerim. Cheng, M. 2017, Show your colours, Kali code, Indonesia.

Yogyantaro, H. 2017, interview, 4 Feb.


Art can be found anywhere around you. Art can express the messages in a thousand words rather saying words that people will forget as time goes. While I was in Indonesia, I went to visit one of the street village in Yogyakarta, the capital of the Indonesian Island of Java, and it was really an amazing experience. I was really shocked that those street arts in Indonesia are all very graphic, have a very deep meaning and pretty in its own way. Unlike Sydney, Australia, street arts are very contemporary and unique.

Walking through the village in Yogyakarta, it gave me a feeling of depression which shows the artist feels through art. According to MOCAtv that highlights about political street art in Yoyakarta, there are a lot of technique to do art, such as poster sticking and stencil painting just like graffiti. One of the taggers, named Digie Sigit (DS13), said his productions or creations were based on social, humanistic, political culture and concepts of local culture that he got from public. The other tagger is also a street artist who based on street poster. His works are also mainly talking about socio-political issues too.

On the other hand, in the city of Sydney, “art in public places is one of the indicators of a flourishing cultural life. It can add joy, texture and complexity to the public domain, help to define our places, tell our stories, and preserve our memories for future generations.” As myself, one of Sydney people, I feel like art in Sydney shows much more of freedom and contemporary. Talking about street art in Sydney, this is a street art program which is called City Art Program and it is for public art, to support local and international artists and contribute to the creative and cultural heartbeat of the City of Sydney. However, there are some street arts that is based on political and was painted illegally.

There are millions of arts across the world. I think street art is one of the good messenger to give people messages of what to be aware of and what is happening in today’s world.


City Art Program, available at <;.

Ray, R. 2013, MOCAtv Highlights Political Street Art in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Video), available at <;.

Urbancult – Mapping urban art in Indonesia 2014, available at <;




(POST C) Andres Busrianto and the Geneng Street Art Project


For thousands of years art has existed in many different forms and spaces. In the last few decades’ street art has become an integral part of the art world. Often laced with a political or social message; empty walls, streets, public spaces and urban environments have become a large and powerful place for artists to leave their mark. Contemporary public art and street art (sculpture, murals, woodcuts) first started appearing across Yogyakarta during the late 1990’s at the hands of low-key of artist groups. In the early 2000’s graffiti and street art rose to prominence as lots of young creatives began to see it’s potential.

Andres Busrianto (Anagard) is an Indonesian artist who I had the pleasure of meeting on a university trip to Yogyakarta. Busrianto spent his school years drawing and painting, his passion eventually led him on to study fine arts (majoring in painting) at Institute of Art Indonesia in Yogyakarta. In recent years he has found a love for street art choosing to working with detailed stencils.

He draws a great deal of his inspiration from the notion of human existence, his family, friends and social settings. At the heart of his beliefs is egalitarianism, a political philosophy that favours equality: People should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals, in some respect (Arneson 2002). This can be seen through the imagery in his pieces, which are a “weapon” for protesting against the injustices and corruption caused by the Indonesian government. He hopes that his art can encourage people to look at the world with an open mind and unite communities.

Painting under the watchful eyes of the law.

Andres has a strong relationship with Geneng, the village he currently resides in just outside Yogyakarta. A humanitarian at heart, Andres was one of the first people to volunteer to help rebuild the village after a devasting earthquake hit the region in 2006. The Geneng Street Art Project (GSAP) is the “crazy” lovechild of Busrianto and his artist group called Ruang kelas SD. The GSAP is the main annual event on the group’s calendar. The idea to fill the bare walls of Geneng with murals started in 2013 when he joined a free street art tour in Berlin and contributed to street art festivals in Lithuania and Poland. Busrianto believes that GSAP is a way that he can continue contributing to the local community by bringing tourism and providing education.

The Geneng Street Art Project logo.

The most interesting part of this project is that the murals are painted on the side of resident’s houses. He negotiates with village members remaining sensitive to culture, customs and religion. Despite doing his best to mediate with the village, Andres has had clashes with locals about what is put on the walls, having to remove what he has done or change the design slightly. Using social media and the Internet he finds and invites local and international artists to contribute to the GSAP each year.

An artist collaborating on a wall piece.
The wall owner infront of one of Andres’ mural in Geneng.

Andres says that art in a gallery is by far the best art but it is often inaccessible in a country like Indonesia. Street art is public art that everyone can connect with, often reflecting the views of the general public. There is something slightly rebellious, which allows it to transcend international cultural differences and unite people who may not have been able to express their thoughts otherwise. He is keen to show the rest of Indonesia and the world the importance of public street art. Looking to the future he wants he wants to document the evolution of the project and turn it into a beautiful coffee table book.

Reference List:

Notes from interview with Andres Busrianto

Arneson, R. 2013, Egalitarianism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, viewed 30 March 2016, < >.

*All images taken by myself or with permission from Andres’ Instagram*


POST A: The Role Context Plays on Indonesian Graffiti

images post A

People have been witting graffiti on walls and in public spaces since the era of the colosseum, and today contemporary graffiti and street art can be found throughout the world, and has played a pivotal role in many social and political revolutions. When trying to understand graffiti or street art context is key, not only in place but also in time. This is relevant when looking at Indonesian graffiti, and its evolution over the past six decades.

Many people associate graffiti as we know it today as part of the New York hip hop scene of the 1970’s however this is only a tiny aspect of graffiti’s history. The act of drawing on walls has been around since prehistoric times. This is evident in Indonesia in Petta Kere cave in the Leang-leang Prehistoric Park in the Sout Sulawesi Province, which is printed with hand prints and an illustration of a boar, that are thought to be from around 5000 BCE.

image from; Panoramio

Modern graffiti has no one source, however it is often linked to the rise of muralismo in Latin America with artist such as Diego Rivera creating political murals in public spaces during the Mexican Revolution. Similarly contemporary Indonesia graffiti has its roots in political activism. Graffiti became an important aspect of Indonesia’s political scene in the 1940’s when Indonesia was still under colonial rule and fighting for independence, when phrases like like “Bung Ajoe Bung” (Come On Man), “Freedom is the glory of any nation. Indonesia for Indonesians” and “Hands off Indonesia!” began appearing in public spaces. Now days graffiti still has political roots. The murals that can be seen around Yogakarta often hold a political message such as the image below, which deals with the complexities of water ownership in Central Java.

images post A

The context of the graffiti changes the meaning of each political piece, for example the piece of social commentary in Chile below would take on a very different meaning in Yogakarta and in Australia, as abortion is still a illegal in both Chile and Indonesia, therefore the best way to spread awareness and information about this taboo issue is through underground means.

images post A

This is in stark contrast to near by city nation state Singapore where graffiti is not only illegal, but includes caning as corporal punishment under the Vandalism Act of 1966. Therefore to see a piece of graffiti one must understand the local context of the piece for its true meaning and value to be understood.


Title images all by author

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