Ghidaq Al-Nizar is an Indonesian artist who creates unique and breathtaking works of art using coffee. While in recent years, coffee-painting has become increasingly popular, Al-Nizar’s work is completely different from what you might normally see. The artist uses not only liquid coffee but coffee grounds, dried leaves, candles, and nails among other materials. More importantly, unlike the majority of artists who use coffee for their work, Al-Nizar does not spill the coffee he uses for his work. Speaking to Sip of Culture, the artist explained, “One thing that people need to know, that I am not just spilling the coffee over the table, no, no. I don’t spill the coffee, I paint with it.”
To create his paintings, Al-Nizar uses leftover coffee as he notes that he does not support the idea of wasting food or drink. For this reason, his projects are known as #zerowastecoffee. Commenting on this, the artist said, “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.” It is easy to see that his work does more than just depict beauty; it provokes thought and raises awareness of environmentally sustainable practices.
Looking at his creations, one can see that the artist’s work is often miniature and extremely detailed. After being asked if there is a particular reason why he chose to paint in such a way, Al-Nizar claimed that his art is about patience. Moreover, he confirmed the aforementioned idea as he stressed that he does not play with or waste resources. “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.”
While the main material for his art is coffee, the artist also makes use of dried leaves, handprints, candles, nails, etc. Speaking to Al-Nizar, we asked what continues to motivate him and where he finds the inspiration to seek such innovative ways of expressing himself. “I love metaphors,” he said. “Dried leaves are perfect representation of nature, life cycle and fragility. Handprints represent humanity and intimacy. Candles for hope and celebration! And nails for fashion, beauty, and feminity [sic.] […] 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.”
Commenting on his inspiration and the things which continue to motivate him, Al-Nizar revealed, “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.” Recalling the first time he felt this inspiration, he shared:
“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.”
Among his many projects is Womb of Love, a series “made as a tribute to the mothers of the world.” For the above miniature and detailed artworks, the artist used coffee, coffee grounds, and fingerprints. Interestingly, Al-Nizar revealed that Womb of Love was among his favourite projects. Furthermore, he shared a little known fact as he disclosed, “I used my own mother’s fingerprint for the series to make it more authentic and intimate.”
While many contemporary artists experiment with coffee, Al-Nizar’s creations are distinctive and unique. They are environmentally sustainable, thought-provoking, and above all, beautiful. Talking about the message he hopes to convey through his art, Al-Nizar noted, “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!”