Good Art Is ..a journey to happiness with John Martono

I wrote the last post, ‘The Wedding at Garut‘ chapter a long time ago but creating an illustration which would work with it took much longer.

However I was lucky enough to visit Bandung a couple of weeks ago and even luckier to visit artist John Martono whose home and studio is nestled in the hills which overlook Bandung and her surrounding mountains. John’s work of loose, flowing lines and pattern on silk, which is then overstitched and painted again, are an interplay of movement, depth and rhythm. His recent work has scenes of ocean depths and ghostly suggestions of sea creatures but he describes his vision as a metaphoric journey to happiness.

John’s life is busy, both locally, where he has just painted one of the village walls in preparation for Indonesia’s Independence Day and globally where his paintings are sought by a number of galleries and buyers. He has even been featured on ‘The Block’ in Melbourne and his contemporary works are featured in homes of the urban and stylish. But he and his family live a life of apparent content with a self-designed home (his wife Citra is an interior designer) which catches the breeze across the hills and where you can sit and drink coffee in the courtyard and have a conversation in perfect ease.

The series of illustrations I made for the Wedding to Garut story were inspired by the flow and intersections of the land, the rituals and textiles in Javanese culture. The 2d drawing with watercolour pencil on paper was manipulated using a simple editing tool on my phone – Paper Artist – to create the look of folded silk or cotton which was then enhanced in Picasa. The feeling of the silk came from John and we also had a peek at the album of John and Citra’s traditional Javanese wedding while we were there – another inspiration to get on with the story.

I’m sure fellow artists would be interested to see John at work – see

Thanks to John and his family for their warm hospitality.

John’s work can also be seen in Melbourne at Tusk Gallery in South Yarra if getting to Bandung is a little far or online at

(nb – when I found the photo with my brother in his very hip 70s shirt I wondered if this might have been a subliminal inspiration too!)

2 thoughts on “Good Art Is ..a journey to happiness with John Martono

  1. Dear Megan,
    Thankyou for lovely visit. Hope to see you again.
    May we could create any collaboration in art.
    Best wishes


    • Hi John – I would love to do that – although I don’t think I’m quite in the same league as you! One day I will come and stay in Bandung for a while – but if you come to Melbourne you can come here and stay anytime!


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