Artist Showcase: Efnu Nirwana

This week’s artist showcase features the fantastic work of Efnu Nirwana. If you relate in some way to the term outsider art and would like to have your work featured on the blog, please email

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Broken String Affanato

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Love No Border for Love

When did your interest in art/creating begin?

Well, I have to pull back to the time in my childhood. I was never an athletic kid, my agility was very bad. I wasn’t a kid who had a sparkling brain which maybe meant I became a victim of bullying. I often went home from school crying because of this and my parents preferred to lock me in the house to make me ‘safe’. I became a very little shy kid with very low confidence, it was hard for me to talk with ‘strangers’ – everybody was a stranger for me in that time. At home my parents bought me a lot of toys, comics and children’s books. I was amazed by the graphic illustrations in some of the children’s books; I would immerse myself in the stories of the books. My favourite is Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, TinTin and Asterix Obelix – of course translated to Bahasa Indonesia. From there I started doodling then making up stories. You know, little kid business. Slowly I built my confidence. My parents never saw this as a talent but they are quite happy because it kept me busy. Drawing is a way for me to socialise with the world and from there I kept drawing. Seriously I never aspired to be an artist or a musician. I just love what I am doing right now, making art.

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Let Our Violence End

What is your starting point for each piece?

It comes from observations, research, reading newspapers, random conversations with friends – or even strangers, stories amongst travellers I meet, socio-political issues locally and globally, human connection. Then I start making up stories and visualise that on canvas or other mediums. I just randomly draw, usually linked to my personal feelings, my anxiety or my ups and downs.

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Ride on Waves

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Sliding Justice

Who/what influences your work?

Socio-political issues, environmental issues. It could be anything, particularly works by my favourite artists. There is a bucket load of artists who inspire me. I am amazed by the work of Egon Schiele, Joseph Beuys, Daniel Johnston, Peter Saul, Robert Crumb, Kathe Kollwitz, and recently I have been enjoying Markus Lupertz. CoBra artists also have a huge impact on me. Eddie Harra, Entang Wiharso, Dadang Christanto and Heri Dono will always be my favourite Indonesian artists. Of course I get a lot of inspiration from my fellow artists. And thanks as well to the magic human invention called the internet, which stores infinite ideas.

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Drink this Poison Sayang

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The King of Misery

What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?

Well… There are figures, lines, dots and colour – and other meanings I put into my works, but I don’t want to orchestrate people’s perception. I don’t have expectations from people who see my work. It can’t change the world, it sounds cliche for me. I prefer to think that my works could trigger something, I don’t know what, but I leave people free to question things by themselves. Then maybe they can discuss it later in a coffee shop with their friends, crafting awareness about issues I want to share. Hopefully. I think that makes art more intimate, more sexy and enjoyable. My work is only a catalyst and it’s supposed to be like that. I know there is a phrase ‘art speaks for itself’, but I think it should be a two way communication, right?

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Have a Good Nightmare

What do you think about the term outsider art? Is there a term that you think works better?

Outsider means a person not belonging to a particular group or whatever, isn’t it?

What makes the thing or person become art / an artist? Do they have to graduate from art school? Do they have to sell their work for thousands of dollars? Do they need words from prominent curators? Do they have to lead an eccentric lifestyle? Or do they need to have beautiful artworks?

If these conditions are a must, then I am not an artist and whatever art I do isn’t worth something, it is meaningless.

Sometimes the term outsider art makes me sad. This label for me sounds like something/someone has been rejected from society, they are a bad fruit on the tree, an ugly duck in a band, but somehow it also gives freedom to make art, to do whatever you want without any pressure, without certification from authority. I don’t know another term to describe it better.

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Wake Me Up When the Storm is Over

What are you working on at the moment?

After my art-social project and an exhibition in Germany last summer there is homework I should be doing. I also left behind three series of paintings to finish. I’m drawing everyday and making woodcut prints and t-shirts as merchandise to sustain my artist life. That’s my daily routine.



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Just Ice Melting in Your Cocktail Glass

Where do you see your work taking you in the future?

I am really enjoying working as an artist/musician. It’s a way for my opinion to be heard and seen. I know it’s hard to live as an artist. Working on social projects also really interests me. I’m still working on it. I think I will keep doing this and I don’t know why I’m still doing it. It is seriously fun, I guess. Future, surprise me!

For more of Efnu’s work, click here


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