JOURNAL | ESSAYS

Bernandi Desanda
See The World Through The Eyes of Wonder | 2020
mixed media on canvas | 200 x 200 cm

An Introduction: Hint Lines for Surprising Forms from Nonhierarchical Composition

Words by

Gatari Surya Kusuma

If a work of art exists because there is a role of imagination as the result of processing the reality of its creator - the artist -, then Bernandi's work (as Bernandi Desanda is called) is a world of imagination that he produces from the reality that revolves within him. I will start this introductory text with a coherent storytelling style about the visual culture that was started by Bernandi when he was still in junior high school.


Narrating the visual culture experienced by Bernandi will lead to an explanation of the shapes, figures, and symbols in his works. It could be that when you want to understand what Bernandi is describing, you can open yourself up to understanding how Bernandi shaped his career in drawing.


This introductory text will explain a lot about the drawing method chosen by Bernandi. Followed by the story and his alignments as an artist who has his share and relationship with the forms of living things that he describes. In the end, he will explain the works that he creates as an important representation of his presence as part of a human being who experiences a life-inspiring process and an artist.


Bernandi has considerable sensitivity in seeing his relationship with animals. Not only with the animals he raises, however, he also often makes observations about the life patterns of animals through documentaries, television shows, games and collect several stories by word of mouth about animals. This sensitivity is also not ignored, he continues to open himself to be more and more inspired about his relationship with animals. In a way, how he understood his relationships with animals also grew along with his awareness of the importance of controlling his ego. Or simply, as he got older, the less he wanted to see animals as creatures he could master.


To start explaining how Bernandi creates his own relationship with animals, playing games and growing plants can help us read further into the artistic method chosen by Bernandi when he draws. Such as the creation of things, reaching the utopian world, or overflowing resentment of something about something that is happening around it.


Method of Capturing Visuals, then Drawing Them


Bernandi lives on the move with different cultural experiences. He moved from Jakarta, DKI Jakarta to the city of Bima, West Nusa Tenggara when he was in Junior High School. He had to move to follow his parents because of their job. Then, when he had to enter the world of university, he chose to move alone to Yogyakarta.


Before his move, his father often traveled back and forth from Bima to Jakarta due to work. In the midst of this, his father once brought an animal found on the street to be treated at their home (Jakarta). Indirectly, this incident contributed to Bernandi's knowledge of his relationship with animals. He discovered the fact that he likes animals as pets by forgetting that not all animals can be kept.


The desire to raise animals and build relationships with animals has occurred until now. However, his perspective on seeing animals that are kept continues to grow and develop. It is possible that the change in his place of life also had an effect. So inevitably he will have to continue to adapt and experience a crisis for his presence and continue to question his life. Along with the adjustment process and the crisis, Bernandi will always be provoked to question how he creates a relationship between himself and something outside of himself. As I have said, Bernandi's maturation process grew as he saw his relationship with animals. If in the past Bernandi did not have the consideration that animals also have rights and a world that could have been better off if not they were not kept, now he will have a lot to consider if he has to raise an animal.


In addition to the maturation process in seeing his relationship with animals, Bernandi also has a maturation process in sharpening his intuition in drawing. He learned about drawing activities when he was still in Junior High School (SMP) and witnessed his father's activities while working - drawing interior designs or building designs. As he grew older, he found out to be more inspired with his drawing activities.

Tirtodipuran Link (May 1 - Jun 6, 2021)

Bernandi Desanda
Waiting The Right Moment. (Slow But Sure) | 2020
mixed media on canvas | 200 x 300 cm

The desire to raise animals and build relationships with animals has occurred until now. However, his perspective on seeing animals that are kept continues to grow and develop. It is possible that the change in his place of life also had an effect.

The first time Bernandi realized about his drawing method was when he was in Junior High School. At that time, Bernandi often imitated the pictures drawn by his father. If traced, the sequence is something like this; to pay attention to what is drawn and how to draw it – to remember the hand movements and drawing sequences – to redraw it on his paper in a similar shape and way.


I noticed the method told by Bernandi in his works for this exhibition. For the first time, I realized that Bernandi's drawings were a story about the world he created. No matter what world, there are more living things than symbols about other inanimate objects. For example, in his work entitled Come Find Me in Your Dreams, it is difficult to capture what kind of animal is the center of attention of the work. However, some forms associate it with the image of a living being.


Associations will appear based on our relationship or knowledge of a form, sign, and symbol. It could be that these shapes, signs, and symbols have become part of our daily lives. If that was the case, we as the viewer would quickly be able to gain this association. If you look at the example of the painting Come Find Me in Your Dreams, it can be seen in a similar shape or we can associate it with a cow, then its environment which is also easy to recognize, namely, water and a place filled with shady green plants.


The animal associated with this cow is the extinct Tasmanian Tiger. Bernandi presents it again, complete with imagination on the creation of the animal’s habitat. When drawing this painting, Bernandi realized that this animal was extinct and could not possibly come back. Therefore, through this drawing, he presumes that the Tasmanian Tiger is able to come back through his dreams. In this way, presenting lakes (water) and forests (plants) with easy-to-grasp compositions shows that it represents the Tasmanian Tiger in a world close to him. This explanation will be increasingly graspable when looking at the compositions in other works.


His closeness to the animal and plant world also makes him keep up with mainstream news, especially those concerning animals. He is not ignoring things that are happening far away from him. For example, the Komodo eviction case of Komodo National Park (KNP), which forced the Komodo dragons to be expelled from their habitat, and how it blocks trucks carrying building materials following their instincts1. This incident has certainly disturbed Bernandi, as someone who has attained a process of maturing himself through the process of inspiring his relationship with animals. This incident became the knowledge or basis for him to make a work entitled The Long Journey Has Just Begun (Again) with the Komodo dragon as the main point of attention of the work. He is not just moving a figure, but he is also moving its territory as the result of inspiration from his supporting activities other than painting.


The Komodo dragon becomes the center of attention in this painting. However, Bernandi presents the difficulties facing the Komodo dragon, one of which is the news about the eviction on the Komodo National Park. If you look back at the painting, it is almost difficult to find the shape of the Komodo dragon as a whole because it is covered by many figures around it. In his work, Bernandi is not presenting the Komodo dragon as the main figure in his paintings by positioning him as king or invincible creature as opposed to what is in the reality that is highlighted by the media.


Every artist (especially painters) has the privilege of being able to freely create their world on canvas. Sometimes these privileges are the fruit of a desire or imagination for the world which he hopes as a utopia. However, Bernandi chose not to present it with a utopian storytelling style. He presents Komodo dragons with complex compositions. Even the presentation of the Komodo dragon not just as an animal, but as a vehicle with wheels that is used by humans.


In terms of composition, Bernandi reinforces the impression that the position of the Komodo dragon is getting more and more depressed by presenting it with a certain degree of complexity. Because of it, when I saw this painting, I asked Bernandi, "How do you see the Komodo dragon's whole body?". Then he said, "just follow the type of stroke and the color of the most prominent shapes." This answer helped me. This painting can also be an example of how Bernandi tends to present the metaphor not only in the figure but also by bringing the habitus with him so that the metaphor does not lose its true meaning2.

Bernandi Desanda
Defense of the Ancients. The Day before the End | 2020
mixed media on canvas | 200 x 400 cm

Tirtodipuran Link (May 1 - Jun 6, 2021)

Bernandi still uses the method of observing what he sees and inspires him where then he would describe it. He applies all of these methods to all of his work. However, in these previous three works, the observation process is most visible. Then, in his work entitled Fight For The Crown, Bernandi is narrating from his observations as a person who is fond of and has quite a strong emotional bond with animals, that each animal has a life cycle. When an animal has become a leader in a habitat, it will have to protect and fight for its ecosystem.


To be able to describe the ecosystem levels in the animal world, of course, Bernandi needs time to observe and understand how an animal ecosystem cycle works to connect and create relationships. This observation process also helps Bernandi to be able to capture and determine metaphorical forms in his paintings.


Nonhierarchical Composition


This is the second half of this text about Bernandi. There is one storyline that I caught when reading Bernandi's work as a whole, which is about messing up the composition of the image with the aim of showing partiality to the losing figure as an effort not to create a hierarchy without diverging from what has happened. I once wondered about Bernandi's reasons for the recurring and non-empty background of his works. Perhaps arguably, he did not use the empty space composition technique to highlight the main points of the work. I tend to play along to see what the main shapes and main points are.


In his work titled The Unlucky Fish, I was misled when I guessed the main point of the story in this work. There are two bird figures that dominate in gesture and shape. One of them was biting a fish. I had the thought that this painting gives power and highlights the story angle to the bird that catches the fish. Bernandi gave the power and the angle of the story to the fish caught by the birds.


In this case, for example, Bernandi managed to mess with the composition of the image to randomize the story. In several chatters during the writing of this text, Bernandi showed his siding with the absence of a hierarchy of power in the animal ecosystem he drew. He does realize that from the literacy he watches and reads, animals are often associated with the law of win-loss and hunt each other to survive. In his logic and storytelling plot, he always tells about what really happened, but he always uses his specialty to create a utopian world on canvas to mess up this reality. One of them is in his painting entitled The Unlucky Fish. He shows his siding with the fish which will naturally always be defeated by birds by providing a story point of view to the fish.


Then, in his two works entitled Waiting For The Right Moment and Defense Of The Ancient, The Day Before The End, Bernandi also consciously messes up the composition so that nothing stands out but at the same time the shape or figure is still not lost. In his work Waiting For The Right Moment, it is difficult to find out who the main figure in the story is. He put the main figure among two crocodiles who were preying on them. However, to be able to get the full shape of a crocodile, our eyes must slowly and focus on tracing the shape of the crocodile heads.


A composition that does not highlight one form and removes the function of empty space to accentuate another is precisely what Bernandi used as a visual language. Even though the crocodile is the main figure, it will not be able to become the main attention if it is not combined with other figures. This awareness of supporting figures is also important, where not placing the crocodile as the main figure has formed an ideal image composition so that it becomes a composition filled with various figures.


Then, in his work entitled Defense Of The Ancient, The Day Before The End, he was inspired by the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game, DOTA. In the game, each player must cooperate with each other to complete the given mission. On this canvas, Bernandi gives almost even and equal compositions to each figure, so that no figure stands out.


In his compositions that shuffle and blur hierarchies, Bernandi uses a wide variety of paints and various textures for his techniques. He has a relationship between the type of paint and the impression or character of the figure he wants to convey. For example, in the lower right corner of the work Defense Of The Ancient, The Day Before The End, there is a figure resembling a human body whose head cannot be seen. To color it, he used red paint for iron with rough strokes. This drawing technique he uses to create a clear impression that the figure resembles a monster with the texture of fresh meat. Of course, this impression would not be conveyed if he used acrylic paint which seemed smooth.


In his work entitled See The World Through Eyes Of Wonder, he emphasizes the dragon figure as the main point in his work. With a square canvas shape, it shows the solid composition and tight cut so that the dragon figure stands out. He likes dragons as animal spirit and believes in them as a symbol of power. You could say that presenting this painting in his series of solo exhibition works is an important intention for Bernandi to show his greatest convictions.


I can say that for as long as I have communicated with Bernandi, he has told a lot about his views on spiritualism. It inspires life as a cycle and something that has a law of cause and effect. Bernandi's contemplation and personality, which have a strong spiritual connection, are well illustrated in his portrait series. He described three portraits in works entitled Change The Way You Look, Cross The Line, and Self Healing which are portraits of things about him and those related to him. It can be said that this is the result of his contemplation as well as three important paintings that have succeeded in describing himself.

Indeed, enjoying Bernandi's work must be done in two ways, first from afar to be able to see the whole habitus he has created. Second, up close to be able to capture the rough texture, glossy feel, and various methods of scratching the brush on the different canvas.


References

  • Sugiharto, Bambang. 1996. Postmodernisme: Tantangan Bagi Filsafat. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius

  • Suryajaya, Martin. 2016. Sejarah Estetika. Jakarta: Gang Kabel

A composition that does not highlight one form and removes the function of empty space to accentuate another is precisely what Bernandi used as a visual language. Even though the crocodile is the main figure, it will not be able to become the main attention if it is not combined with other figures.

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