Amplifying Music through Illustrations with Kunto Aji and Antonio Reinhard Wisesa

In the early afternoon of November 16, Kunto Aji unveiled his collaboration with illustrator Antonio Reinhard Wisesa, usually referred to as Toni, an exhibiting artist at the Jakarta Illustration & Creative Arts Fair (JICAF). Coming down to said event to talk us through the collaboration, Kunto Aji and later Toni revealed five of the nine total illustrations corresponding to each song in Kunto Aji’s latest album, Pengantar Purifikasi Pikir, which explores the theme of ‘growth’.

The collaboration came about as JICAF was preparing for the first edition of their event with talks of a collaboration opportunity with Kunto Aji began emerging in conversations between Novrizal Pratama and Sunny Gho, Co-Founders of JICAF. Kunto Aji is a singer who is no stranger to the world of visual arts having collaborated with visual artists for the covers of his previous albums. The collaboration exists in the context of reimagining the songs in Pengantar Purifikasi Pikir with a new feel. Novrizal explained that the medium of music is much easier for people to digest but with the addition of a visual element, “the meaning of the music is amplified.” When discussing Kunto’s interest in collaborating with JICAF, both Kunto and Novrizal agreed that both visual and musical artists operate at similar frequencies and so the collaboration came about naturally as a way of connecting these artistic frequencies.


The collaboration process began with JICAF proposing Antonio as a potential artist for the collaboration. “We felt that Toni would be able to depict [the themes of Kunto Aji’s album] because Toni’s quite a contemplative person and when we proposed [Antonio] him, Kunto was on board, Novrizal elaborated. Kunto Aji then handed over the songs for Toni to listen to and then basically allowed him to visually interpret each song as he pleased. “[The illustrations] are purely Toni’s interpretation.” Antonio really appreciates Kunto’s work and explained, “Mas Kunto just gave me a lot of freedom.” After listening to the lyrics of each song, and contemplating how Toni himself felt about the songs. “For myself, [the aim is] to appreciate Kunto’s creations too,” he stated. While the music irrefutably played a massive part in his process, the cover art of this third studio album by Iqi Qoror also became a huge point of inspiration for Toni. 

Toni went on to explain that each song is represented individually in his illustrations. “There’s no overarching theme through all the pieces but well I just wanted to express what I feel Kunto was trying to convey and capture that in my drawings,” he explained. In accordance with the album’s theme, Antonio feels that Kunto reflected on both his past experiences and the possibilities of the future through his music and he set out to harness that philosophy. What I can add in these illustrations are fairly small details. For example in "Jangan Melamun Saat Hujan" (English: Don't Daydream When It Rains), it [means] ‘Don’t let your mind wander,’ but there’s also a factor of nostalgia. So, I depict a character in that image in their childhood drawing the rain.”

The last four of the nine prints were unveiled and available for purchase on November 17th. Each print has been limited to 30 available copies for sale. The collaboration is also devoted to a good cause. All the proceeds from the sale of these prints will be donated to relief efforts for Palestine. Kunto had initially wanted to hold a fundraising concert for the cause but had decided to use the collaboration with Antonio as an opportunity to fundraise and raise awareness of the cause. “There’s also a hidden watermelon in one of the prints so keep an eye out for that!” Kunto noted.

About the Author

Kireina Masri

Kireina Masri has had her nose stuck in a book since she could remember. Majoring in Illustration, she now writes, in both English and Indonesian, of all things visual—pouring her love of the arts into the written word. She aspires to be her neighborhood's quirky cat lady in her later years.