The year 2020 - Darbotz
This year, the artist that is featured: Darbotz
Indonesian street artist Darbotz (b. 1981) begun his ‘career’ in the mid 1990’s in a school gang when he graffitied walls, buses and even enemy school areas. Today he is the most celebrated and internationally known street artist in Indonesia, famous for his alter-ego Cumi-Kong, a black and white patterned squid, which can be seen all over the city.
Jakarta has been an inspiration for Darbotz in many ways: he likens the city to his squid character - which takes the form of a sphere with menacingly sharp, teeth-like tentacles - a visualization of the good, bad and ugly sides of chaotic city life. Other inspirations include hip-hop culture as represented by Wu Tang Clan, NWA and A tribe Called Quest.
As one of Indonesia’s most famous graffiti artists, Darbotz takes after UK-based street artist and political activist Banksy, as he prefers to remain anonymous. When appearing at public events or featured in photographs, Darbotz usually covers his face with his hands, making it impossible for anyone to identify him. He explains “A few reasons but mainly because I’d rather people see my work than my face. It’s fun to make people curious! As my work is highly recognizable, people recognize the art – they don’t need to be distracted by me.”
Darbotz is one of the founders of Tembokbomber: a network for graffiti artists from around Jakarta. Together they have built a network and share their experiences with the broader public. They have held graffiti collaborations with artists from around the world in cities such as Berlin, Sao Paulo and Paris.
Darbotz pursued graphic design and obtain his Bachelor’s Degree at Trisakti University in 2001, where he studied semiotics theory and developed a desire for an avatar that would represent him. By day the artist still works as a graphic designer in an advertising agency, but outside the office Darbotz takes on a different persona, suffusing Jakarta’s underpasses, walls and shophouse doors with his trademark black and white traced icons marked by flashes of color.
The street artist has taken part in numerous international exhibitions in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Korea, Japan and France. His artwork has also attracted the attention of big corporates such as Guinness, Nike, Jansport, Mercedes Benz and Google, who have all commissioned projects with the artist. Darbotz has held solo exhibitions at Melbourne Intercultural Fine Art and the Vivi Yip Art Room in Jakarta, amongst others; his largest work is of a massive graffiti façade of the 8-storey ArtOtel in Jakarta. Darbotz is the winner of the Indonesia Design Award for Best Product Design in 2017.