Pastel portraits depict popular culture with youthful whimsy.

Ryo Laksamana (he/him), aka Ryol, was born in 1993 in Banyuwangi, Indonesia, and is currently based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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As a child, Ryol grew up with “Sunday morning cartoon movies, ‘Emo’ music, and Indonesian translated manga comics.” His resulting love for anime and manga is suffused through his current work.


The title of Ryol’s 2020 solo show “Ocean Eyes” referenced the large, doe-like eyes on his figures. The “big eyes” style is a broader trend in contemporary pop-surrealism, and its origins are often related to American artist Margaret Keane in the 1950’s.

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Practice overview

Ryo Laksamana (aka Ryol) blends childlike fancy with nods to pop culture and beyond. His paintings and drawings depict young people with enormous, emotive eyes. The artist cites Yoshitomo Nara as a key stylistic influence. Earlier works have a more sombre tone. Their pop-surrealist style is made up of muted, smoothly blended oils. Around 2020, the artist began creating works with a more light-hearted feel. His technique involves applying layer upon layer of acrylic, pastel and crayon. Occasionally he adds splashes of paint or uses stencils. While still portraits, the mark-making is more visible, colourful and playful.

When he was a kid, Ryol would scribble onto his history books in school. This mode of appropriation remains in his practice today. Art historical and pop cultural references are layered throughout. Some paintings are based on Neo-Expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Others reimagine Pokémon cards, characters from the Flintstones or smartphone interfaces. “Pop culture in Indonesia is consumerism,” says the artist. As such, Ryol reflects the world that surrounds him – filtering mass culture through a fun, youthful lens.

“Fine art is the instrument I use to express my soul.”Ryol