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Meet Kanoko Takaya - Malaria House Women Series

Indonesia is not a stranger for Kanoko Takaya. Born in 1991 in Kyoto, Japan, Kanoko has been visiting Indonesia with her family since she was 4 years old. “I used to bring a sketchbook when I travel to Indonesia,” said Kanoko. She was doing some sketching when an Indonesian man approached her and ask to exchange his artwork with her sketch. “I didn’t even know if my sketch is actually an artwork. I thought it’s just a regular sketch! I think that was my first encounter with art,” added her.

Kanoko kept drawing on her junior high school time and joined a drawing class after school. She took an art major on her high school but didn’t put too much effort into studying it. “One of my teachers asked me why I draw during and I said that I felt like I’ve been called to do it, not because I want to,” explain Kanoko about her journey to study art on the early days. She then took a visual design major at Kyoto Seika University and came to Indonesia to study art at Indonesia University of Arts (ISI), Surakarta, in 2014.

“I always feel like I'm being called to be an artist, not because I want to be an artist. I met a professor at my university and recommended me to study batik in Solo, Indonesia. And that’s why I went to Solo and stayed for 2 years,” explain Kanoko about her journey to study art.

Her first year in Solo was more focusing on learning the Indonesian language and art was just a hobby. Little did she know that her visit to the mask museum will change her life direction. “I was so amazed by the Indonesian masks! I went back another day just to stay there sketching all those masks all day,” said Kanoko. For her, Indonesian mask shows various expressions, which is very different with Japanese mask. “Japanese mask is like Japanese people, you know, little expression but very detail. You have to find the meaning implied from the mask. Indonesian mask is just like Indonesian people, very open and expressive,” added her.

After that, Kanoko went on to learn about how to make Indonesian masks. She was fascinated mainly by the particular mark of Bobung from Yogyakarta and the mask from Malang, East Java. “Making a mask gives me more freedom to create deeper expressions that I didn’t get from drawing. That’s why I really enjoy learning about mask making,” said Kanoko.

Kanoko moved to Bali on her 3rd year in Indonesia and continue working on designing products for Pithecanthropus under her own brand, Kanokon.

“I have been working on my brand for 6 years now where I created scarfs, t-shirt, dresses product under my brand Kanokon for Pithecanthropus. The design is a combination of Indonesian culture and what I feel or see as a person,” explain Kanoko about her product, Kanokon.

She continues to create artworks using various representation methods such as acrylic plates, illustration, decoration, and a three-dimensional representation. On her free time, she goes to watch movies, reading books, or spend times with her Japanese friends.

Kanoko has been creating artworks and products during her 4 years in Indonesia. Her next goal is to share about the art-making process through workshop and discussions. “I always feel like I’ve been chosen to live in Indonesia. My journey to becoming an artist has led me to here and I will continue to create more art and share my knowledge with everyone,” said Kanoko at the end of our conversation.

Photos and video by Malariahouse/@arimendrofa

By: Malariahouse | 30 November 2018