With only a few weeks to go before a three-month residency at the Centre Intermonde, in La Rochelle, France, artist Muhammad Akbar reflects on his artistic growth.
The Bandung-based artist is known for his limitless multimedia art. Most often using the pseudonym Kill Afternoon, Akbar utilizes everything from pencils, paintbrush, computer software, musical instruments, and other, less-orthodox means to create. For the last few years, however, Akbar has undergone a centralized focus on using moving visuals to convey his art.
The last few exhibitions he took part in showcased multiple uses of old television sets and analog videos, ostensibly to represent what he describes as “the clashing of two spaces: reality and pseudo-reality.”
Akbar recalls that his first exposure to art was through his architect mother’s drawings. Recognizing her son’s increasing interest towards comics and animated features, she began teaching him how to draw a variety of objects. His childhood artistic journey took another step forward when his father gave him a copy of “Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia Vol.2 Ameri Assin.” The illustrations and photographs enraptured him.
“I barely knew how to read English, but between the animation, art, comics and painting sections [of the book], I found my calling,” Akbar remembers.
From there on, he became acquainted with big names in the art world, including Van Gogh, who was a major early inspiration.
As a teenager, Akbar fell hard for the aesthetic and history of the art world through films such as Akira Kurosawa’s visually mesmerizing “Dreams” and “Basquiat,” the film about Haitian-American artist Jean-Michael Basquiat.
By his final year in high school, Akbar was frequenting the library at the French Cultural Center, now known as IFI. There, he dove deep into the many Franco-Belgian comics available to read. In university, he chose to study Fine Arts at the Bandung Institute of Technology.
It was during these years that Akbar, who was already actively using the Kill Afternoon moniker began partaking as both an artist as well as a curator/organizer at various art exhibitions and creative events. Amongst his many activities was the printed zine “AirSeni” (“Semen”) and the noise-art band AStoneA.
From then on, art became the central part of his daily routine. Every day Akbar would indulge in creating art through whatever means.
His current fixation on visual art has also landed him a variety of related jobs, such as designing posters and album sleeves for bands, as well as making music videos. The majority of his current exhibits are also video-related pieces.
Akbar says some of his proudest achievements include the video still installations Telepower, The Tube, and Gaze (The Unseen) — all of which showcase the artist’s fascination with looping, hypnotic images.