Full interview with Ghidaq Al-Nizar

Indonesian artist Ghidaq Al-Nizar spoke to Sip of Culture and shared his story via email. The artist spoke about his inspirations, the materials he uses, his favourite projects, and what continues to inspire him:

Q. How did you first get the idea to use coffee – and more specifically, coffee grounds – for your artworks?

A: There’s always story behind my artwork. However, it is all started because i am a coffee lover. At first, I drew using coffee ground but with technique that similar to Sand Painting, it was a total different technique and experience. I did not think the way I think now. It was before the college , between senior highschool. And when I was in college, like other students we hang out. It was around that time I was mesmerized by Cappuccino and friends (Latte).  There was a time when I went to a cafe and the barista served me rosetta, but the patterns they created were always the same and at that moment I sighed. I was bored with that. It’s not only my tongue having coffee but also my eyes enjoying it. So I began to make my own coffee and latte art, drew it as beautiful as I wanted it to be. And from that moment, my adventure began.

My Zero Waste Coffee or The Coffee Grounds art started one morning when I was too lazy to make a milk foam [for etching my coffee]. I went to the kitchen and made a cup of ground coffee. When I came to the bottom of the cup, I saw the grounds! And there was a pattern, it was like a dog and I imagined Grim was there, a fictional creature from Harry Potter. My mind and hands began to work…eventually I impressed myself. Sometimes you don’t need to think too much—just see and feel.

In the next stage I am not just pouring/sowing the coffee like I did in the past. By practicing a lot I was able to create Coffee Painting like now. And one thing that people need to know that I am not just spilling  the coffee over the table, no, no. I dont spill the coffee, I paint with it.

Q: Looking at your work, one can see that you use coffee, dried leaves, handprints, candles, nails, etc. What continues to motivate you today and where do you find the inspiration to seek new ways of expressing yourself?

A: I love metaphors. Dried leaves are perfect representation of  nature, life cycle and fragility. Handprints represents humanity and intimacy. Candles for hope and celebration! And nails for fashion, beauty and femininity.  Can you see the big picture now, I try to combine coffee with objects that occur in human life to show that humanity and nature are not separate, and to tell about struggles and hopes, about love and intimacy and beauty.

I realized that over time I could spread positive messages and campaign through my work just as I did. This motivates me too somehow. I believe art should not be used as an escape from reality, it should be used to recreate a better one!

And there is something interesting about my career as an artist, especially a coffee painter. Over the time I feel like coffee has something more and more in it. Something I can still explore further and I am working on it. To me painting with coffee is not about replacing the media with coffee, it’s not about replacing oil with coffee, pencil with coffee, it is about exploring the coffee itself. This perspective is  important for me and essential.

One thing for sure is I don’t find inspiration, it’s more like inspiration found me.  This one is a really good question. The idea, the inspiration of my painting came like a movie scene in my mind, like a memory and it could be like a several scenes or images. Imagination, idea, inspiration are never be a problem for me, All I really have to do is focus on that one scene and then start painting. It is on the decision.

Q: Your work is often miniature and extremely detailed. Is there a particular reason why you choose to paint in such a way?

A: It is about patience and constant focus. That’s the main point and what my art has taught me so far too. Anything good takes time. After all, this technique also emphasizes that I don’t play with food, and not with coffee. I paint from what’s left and sometimes it’s small amounts. “I paint a mini painting because I don’t play with my coffee, it’s a remnant.”

We live in a world where many people still suffer from starvation and water scarcity. So I think it is really insensitive to play with these resources. My large paintings come from accumulated coffee waste, so yes I have been really thoughtful about my art.

Q: Which artwork did you enjoy creating most and why?

A: Among my favorite is my Womb of Love series, paintings of pregnant women that I made as a tribute to the mothers of the world. The scale is tiny, with a fingerprint as the center of the image, and what you might not know is that I used my own mother’s fingerprint for the series, “to make it more authentic and intimate.

Q: What message(s) do you aim to convey to the viewers of your work?

A: I really want people to at least catch the simplest meaning of what I’m doing, that it is not about how talented we are, it is how we celebrate our lives, to love more, to spread more positivity and peace. And enjoy every drop of your coffee! It is about celebration!

To see more of the artist’s work, visit his Instagram @coffeetopia here.

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