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Zola Zolu Gallery
Iroel - CHAIRUL S. SABARUDIN

Colored Pencil Mag
,February 2012

Iroel was born in Malang, Indonesia 42 years ago to a simple family. His father was in the Indonesian Air Force and his mother was a housewife. Iroel was a typical boy, but it never occurred to him to become a doctor, policeman, pilot, or teacher when he grew up -- and being a painter was ever further from his mind. Like other boys, he was not attracted to airplanes and helicopters, but he did enjoy looking at pictures and, in his fourth year of elementary school, he created his first figures by drawing on the walls of his house.

Iroel's artistic ability continued to grow and, at last, he produced his first serious drawing -- a portraits of his late father, drawn in scale, with the help of grids similar to those he used to draw maps in geography class. His access to art supplies was limited, but there was cheap charcoal available to him and he found it a useful tool in helping him develpo a precise drawing style that remained true to the nature of his subject.

Since his first year in Junior High, he began to draw portraits of world leaders. Soon his friends in Senior High, very impressed by his artistry, found that they were willing to part with their pocket money in other to have Iroel draw their portraits and those of their family members.

This experience was eye-opening for Iroel; he saw that he could gain an income from his skills and he was determined to improve himself. Not satisfied with the limited opportunities offered to him by his schoolmates, he began to produce greeting cards and sell them at the downtown sidewalk in front of the "Toko Riang", in the now defunct “Merdeka Cinema" in Malang.

"The first I sold my paintings there", Iroel said, "I was afraid that my schoolmates would find out, so I wore a hat and lowered my shades to cover my face, but they eventually found me out anyway."

He began to realize that drawing and painting can be a serious occupation, confirmed when he saw a television event where one of his friends won an international contest held by UNICEF. He though, "If he can draw well, why can't I?"

Several years after graduating from the art department in IKIP Malang, Iroel started his career in Bali. In 2004, he worked full-time as a portrait artist in the Sol Melia Hotel there. But despite having secure employment in Bali, he ended his contract and went back to be with his beloved wife and children in Malang. He decided that he'd rather become a professional artist in his own hometown, even though it would be a greater challenge. He chose colored pencils as his medium, because they lend such a unique characteristic to his work, and began to work.

Unfortunately, things did not turn out very well for him at first. Iroel had to take an extra job as a grilled-chicken vendor in order to make ends meet. Luckily, he found that he also had cooking talent and that the 8-month tenure wasn't too hard on him.

In the meantime, he continued to dilligenty display his works at exhibitions in local cities. It took quite some timee but, at last, his drawings began to receive attention from collectors. From then on, his fortunes began to change and he signed a contract with a renowned gallery in Bandung, Zola Zolu.

In his humble studio, in the front room of his house, Iroel still works steadily, mixing colors on his canvases; creating works of art. More often than not, becak drivers, bakso vendors, vegetable hawkers, and school children stop by to glance at his work or visit his studio in order to witness the creation of his impressive canvasses. He beams, "it's like having a solo exhibition here. Many people come to take a look at my work and appreciate what I have created. Whoever they are, I always welcome them."

When one sees this man with the thin moustache and determined look, they may think he is a government employee or white-collar worker. What a happy surprise when they realize that this man with the peaceful demeanor and friendly disposition is actually an artist -- a colored pencil artist.



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Iroel Iroel Iroel
Iroel Iroel