Known for his kaleidoscopic visuals that blend images, scripts, and symbols from a wide range of countries and cultures, Ardneks – real name Kendra Ahimsa – has spent more than a decade developing a sensorial visual language. This evolution is recounted in his debut monograph, Coastalvision: Heavily-saturated Tropicália, which lives up to the promise of its title.
The book has been published and designed by Jakarta-based imprint Jordan, jordan Édition, whose founder, Jordan Marzuki, became friends with Ardneks while studying graphic design at university at the same time. Writing in the foreword, Marzuki says that Ardneks – who has collaborated with bands like Japanese Breakfast, Khruangbin, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra on their visuals – manages to transform music from purely a listening experience into a visual one.
Ardneks somehow takes the crisp edges and contrasting imagery found in collage and compresses it into his complex illustrations, a style that can perhaps be traced back to his own beginnings in collage work. While the scenes themselves may appear full-on, there is an orderliness to his works, too, thanks to smooth textures and palettes that are intense by themselves but cohesive as a whole.
Coastalvision features a curious approach to design seen in other Jordan, jordan Édition books. The front cover includes cut-out shapes that create windows to the illustrations on the page beneath, and the lettering has been released from any grid system to weave around the pictures. Playful details are embedded throughout the book, including the open spine that spells the book’s title, and several fold-out pages.
Marzuki, who co-designed the book with Elisabeth Tania and also wrote the foreword, tells us that the design is “inspired by the beautiful chaos, overwhelming and heavily saturated colours in Ardneks’ illustration”, and references the illustrator’s use of “scattered random typographic elements” and blend of geometric shapes that are “sometimes symmetrical, sometimes uneven”.
Ardneks’ otherworldly visuals are mirrored in the book’s content, which comprises interviews with Reno Nismara from the perspective of imaginary radio hosts from around the world (and one civilisation well beyond planet Earth). These conversations merge “reality and fantasy, just like Ardneks’ art”, Marzuki writes in the book.
In another introductory text, writer and curator Nin Djani muses on how Ardneks could have filled galleries with his work but remained dedicated to more accessible media: “I think of all the posters and art prints I hung up as a child, how they inadvertently shaped my perspective on life and got me inspired. I am sure that someone somewhere near or far or wherever they are, is sharing this feeling when they look at Ardneks’ artworks on their wall or on the door of their cupboard.”
Coastalvision: Heavily-Saturated Tropicália by Ardneks is published by Jordan, jordan Édition; jordanjordan.co