There is something immensely poetic about Justin “Tiny” Nuyda’s art, specifically his mindscape series. And this poeticity perhaps lies within the many husks and layers of contradictions that make up these “landscapes of the mind.” For example, Nuyda’s works can simultaneously embody opposites, like harmony and disorder, symmetry and asymmetry, and calmness and chaos.
It is fitting that his latest mindscape creation, which was part of Galerie Roberto and Art Moments Jakarta’s “Varied Conversations” is titled Fire and Ice. “I am a very spontaneous painter,” he said. “The concept behind the artwork develops as I paint and then concludes when I lift the paintbrush away from the canvas. Fire and Ice is representative of a paradox behind the elements, their shapes, how I imagine them integrate and form.”
According to Nuyda, the work reminds him of the scorching and fiery sunsets on the mountains when he used to hike, as well as of the clear blue waters of the lakes and oceans he fishes in. On a deeper level, the work serves as a reminder and a way for him to somehow relish bittersweet experiences and memories.
If one looked at Nuyda’s works long enough, many can be said of his captivating aurora-like landscapes, such as its transcendental features, which give off an almost cosmic feeling. This celestial mood comes from the artist’s creative bending of earthly elements such as horizons, terrains, and planes. The result is both strangely unfamiliar and eerily recognizable a scene.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about these mindscapes is the colors. Aftermath, a personal favorite, tells a narrative just through its color composition. Nuyda is a master at this. And he credits this skill from being a lepidopterist who specializes in Philippine butterflies. “Having started collecting butterflies at the age of seven, I have described over a hundred species and subspecies,” he said. “This passion for jeweled insects and the terrain they thrive in has served as a major inspiration for my works over the past 50 years.”
Behind all these visual complexities, Nuyda, as he says so himself, is an impulsive artist. “I paint as I go,” he said. “I compose as I paint. My art process is rather simple. I build on my color palette before creating an artwork and continue to build it as I progress.”
Moreover, he does not subscribe to any political or philosophical thoughts that may give influence on the themes behind his paintings. “There were artworks in the past, however, that have elements pertaining to my visual expression of certain events or subjects that have a religious, political, or philosophical underlining.” According to him, these usually manifest from simple to intricate details in his works. “If anything, the closest to ‘philosophical’ is perhaps my inclination to the environment,” he said. “How the environment affects me, and the world we live in.”
For Nuyda, his art is rather simple, a representation of reality as he sees it. In turn, he keeps on searching and discovering more of himself and his surroundings through the art that he creates. “This is why I entitle my artworks, ‘Search Mindscape,’” he said. “There will always be a narrative behind my artwork that will be challenging to express in writing as I create based on intuition and feeling most of the time. On the other hand, viewers, in their individual ways, can define and redefine, with open-mindedness, the mindscapes that I paint. That is perfectly fine with me as this is how I choose to communicate and portray myself as an artist.”
For me, a viewer, Nuyda’s mindscapes are extramundane poems, full of beautiful contradictions, with the greatest one found right in his nickname. Contrary to what he is called, Nuyda is considered a giant in the country’s contemporary art scene, with a stellar career spanning five decades. And he is still on a hunt for new and uncharted terrains.