Sun, 02 Feb 2003

Oscar Lawalatta's tie-dyeing goes beyond fashion

Fitri Wulandari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

For young talented designer Oscar Lawalatta, tie-dyed cloth is an artistic expression. It goes beyond fashion and its lingering style or trends. In Oscar's hand, the antiquated cloth becomes modern, vibrant and expressive.

In Oscar's latest work, tie-dye, or locally known as Jumputan, is not just a cloth patterned with dots. It is more like an abstract painting where the painter expresses all his moods in colors.

"At first, I just wanted to use just black and white. But it really depends on my emotions and moods during the process."

"In the end, I come up with many colors like red, green, yellow and blue. It really depends on how I feel when I make the cloth," he added.

Jumputan cloth has been known here for centuries. Normally, it is only patterned with dots. The name tie-dye comes from its technique to create pattern which is done by tying the cloth or sewing parts of the cloth and then dyeing in colors. It will result in various motifs and dots.

Recently Oscar's tie-dye collection was exhibited for the second time at the FeMale radio office. The first exhibition was held in Gedung Dua8 in Kemang, South Jakarta in December last year.

Although claiming to have only learned the technique six months ago, Oscar showed some outstanding skill with his refreshing work.

The success of his first exhibition spoke for itself. From all his works displayed in Gedung Dua8, 70 percent was sold at prices ranging from Rp 3.5 million to Rp 9.5 million.

Oscar's tie-dye collection uses raw Makassar silk which still has rough fiber and is not closely knitted.

In the most recent display, viewing Oscar's art is like watching a flotilla of colorful cloths.

There are pieces that look like the inside part of a mineral stone with layers of colors. This work is entitled "Abstract Motif: dark green, maroon red, black and orange".

Others are just simply orange or blue dots on a white silk cloth like his work which is titled "Bulat Biru Turque" (Blue Turquoise Dot).

He also uses a traditional motif like Dark Blue Parang which was taken from a traditional Javanese cloth motif Parang.

But the most spectacular of his creations is his combination of old batiks with the tie-dye cloth. The old batik is layered with his tie-dye.

The tie-dye strengthens the image of old batik and produces something of grandeur from the past.

"I want to emboss the old batiks with tie-dye. And the result is a whole new impression. Old batiks are not only something old and antique but also can be contemporary," Oscar remarked.

"In addition, old batiks have strong traditional value, deeper emotions and energy," he added.

To hunt for the old batiks, Oscar asked his relatives in Surakarta to find them for him. Many of the batiks have not been made for more than 30 years.

His tie-dye collections now serve more than just fashion. It can be display as an artwork just like paintings to decorate offices, hotels or even a house.

"The concept is that tie-dye can be used not only for fashion but also interior design," Oscar said.

"It should be freed from all limitations," he concluded.