Story By
Stephanie Mamonto

Every piece was designed and constructed spontaneously, combined with architectural frameworks, digital paintings, and contemporary jazz tunes. Through ‘The Heart of The Beholder’, Raul Renanda reveals the untold story about Indonesia and its people.

Taking its place in the Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Bandung, Raul Renanda’s ‘The Heart of The Beholder’ is part of the Indonesialand Architecture Exhibition, held between 2 September and 2 October 2016. This exhibition initiated the exposure of what’s real in Indonesian society through architecture and spoke about the essence of it; creating space for social and human empathy, with a  mathematical approach.

Aesthetically, it summarizes society’s efforts in this country’s political, social, cultural, defensive, and security-conscious arenas. Therefore, according to Sarah M. A. Ginting in her curatorial note, architecture’s physicality is keeping track of the past, present, and future. In other words, the architecture records civilization.

‘The Heart of The Beholder’ began with a sense of dismay regarding the complexity of technical parameters. These often intersected with the non-technical phenomena of art. When contextualized with contemporary issues that know no boundaries of time and place, it often alienates our logic and senses in daily life and also in the process of creating art.

“It’s not easy for me to tell the feelings or meanings behind this art installation. It was designed to deliver its meanings by looking closely at it and being in the moment,” explained Raul, who started his career as an architect whose very first task with Atelier 6, was designing the Jakarta Theatre at Taman Ismail Marzuki during 1994-1995. “’Heart of The Beholder’ is for us to create that blend between our hand, our head, and our heart,” he continued.

Raul’s works have always started with an emotional approach, leading us to layered expressions, accompanied by a bold framework. This contradictive nature has always been his struggle and also inspiration. We can clearly see it from the two elements in ‘The Heart of The Beholder’; the metal pipe construction which stands still on the floor and the floating space frame, made from aluminium and plastic.

“This reveals my restlessness among the two worlds which I am in, between art and design, analog and digital, reality and abstraction,” said Raul, the author of two books, ‘99 Untuk Arsitek’ and ‘Mencuri Kreativitas Desainer’. The framework was inspired by the forms of sailing boats in the children’s song ‘Nenek Moyangku Seorang Pelaut’ (My Ancestor was a Sailor). “I was born and live on the land, but somehow, I always knew, I was inked to the sea,” he concluded, a belief shared by many Indonesians.

Raul, who runs Raul Renanda Design, a consulting firm focusing on design in architecture, interiors, graphics, and products, considers his method of having no sketches an effort in not being enslaved by techniques and special materials. “There should be no restrictions inhibiting the ‘sense’ I try to embody. Any difficulties that come from the process are a compromise in realizing the ‘sense’,” he added.

Ultimately, ‘The Heart of Beholder’ merges all forms of energy into reality, the real difficulty in the creative process. Composing with senses, not with minds, is surely not an easy job.

Photo by Raul Renanda’s documentation