Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Some people we are destined to meet; the rest of that friendship all depends on our effort.

In 2008, I visited Bali with my parents. Being our first time there, we stayed in Ubud and visited all the touristy places. On our last day, we went to Monkey Forest in the morning and decided to walk back to where we stayed. We grew a little sick of Balinese food (or tourist-Balinese food, complete with Gamelan music in the background) so we by-passed many eateries. Finally we came to a cafe which sold Japanese food, and I thought it would be a good change even though it seemed ridiculous to have Japanese food in Bali. So we settled down in this cafe called Ubud Raya and looking at the wooden furniture, coffee-beans and bookshelves, I thought 'Hmmm this may be a little like what onistudio may look like."

The man who served us was a very humourous-looking man who looked like he had just walked out from the set of Pirates of the Carribean, playing one of the pirates. He was a very polite man despite looking fierce and unfriendly, and so he reminded me of Zai. His wife was in-charge of the kitchen, she is Japanese. There and then, I text Zai "I want you to come to this cafe next time."

And so we did. In barely six months, I was back in Bali again, this time with Zai. We visited Ubud Raya and since that fateful meeting, I believed we had spend 3 out of 5 days sitting in the cafe. We got to know this pirate-looking man: Agoes, his wife: Toshiko, his daughter: Raras, his incredibly positive niece: Lani, and even his horny monkey: Tommy, his dog which stole a little girl's underwear: Pipi and a very quiet owl. We became friends, just like that.

One night as we ate and drank in Agoes cafe, he suddenly took out a blueprint of his 'dream'. It was a house by a river. He had wanted to build a house by the river to serve for artist residency. Agoes talked me through his aspirations, and I thought no one in Singapore had ever talked to me about his or her dream in that manner. I was touched by this man's openness and purity. Then he told me he has another dream - to have a painting exhibition in Singapore.

The next morning, I told Zai (who had fell asleep from exhaustion and missed out the conversation) about Agoes dream. Immediately, Zai said he would give up his slot in Jeremy Hiah's Your Mother Gallery in order to show Agoes' work. We went back to Agoes cafe that night and broke the news to him. I don't know how Agoes felt about our response, but perhaps you could ask him this Friday, because a year after that night, he is finally here in Singapore fulfilling his dream.

Agoes Djatmiko
BAHARATI - From Java to Bali Exploring Wayang
26 February 2010 (Fri)
Your Mother Gallery, Hindoo Road

In late 2009, I visited Bali for the third time. Befoe going to the airport, we went to Mediya to pack Japanese tofu and Umei shomen for Toshiko, since we found out that it was not easy to get high quality tofu in Bali. Upon reaching Denpasar, we saw the familiar face of Agoes waiting for us patiently and laughing good humouredly as usual. His car could not start that day, so he had to hire another driver to come and pick us up. We went straight to his cafe as if it were our hotel, and met all the familiar faces, watch the same Sumo wrestling on the TV, ate the not incredibly delectable but homely food - and it occured to Zai and I that we have a family in Bali now.

In that last trip to Bali, I feel terribly ill which was probably due to food poisoning somewhere or an aversion towards the amount of tourism, development and money-mindedness that engulfed the beautiful island. Yesterday we told Agoes that it would be difficult for us to return to Ubud Bali again and to our surprise, his 'river house' dream has took on a twist. He said that developers are interested to buy the plot of land beside the river in Ubud and with that money, perhaps he could really fulfill his dream but somewhere in the mountains.

Then quite abruptly in the middle of our conversation, he took out several thin t-shirts from his heavy luggage:

onistudio t-shirts! He took the photograph off our Facebook and printed t-shirts for us! That's what both of us had been supposed to do but was either too lazy or distracted to do. For the last two months, we had been busy with the disappointment of not being able to afford a real physical space for onistudio and forgot about litte things like this. So this t-shirt reminded me of onistudio motto again,

"Small is beautiful"

Every dream begins with a small step - just like how this incredible frienship we had with Agoes was forged. No matter how small each gesture is, more importantly, underlying all that we do, they all come from the heart. I guess in all attempts to translate 'Barahati', that's my intepretaion of the title of this exhibition.

Zai will be performing at 8pm. Please do come and have a look and another important thing, to hang out at Your Mother Gallery as it sprints towards its last lap and closes doors from June onwards.

See you there!

p/s: Email for any enquiries


Anonymous Anonymous said...

生命是一頓豐富的宴席,有人卻寧可挨餓 ..................................................

7:17 PM, February 27, 2010  

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