Grzegorz Drozd

© All rights reserved Grzegorz Drozd

The Matahari Project

Looking for inspiration and creative work, Alicja Łukasiak and Grzegorz Drozd have decided to set out for an artistic journey through the islands of Indonesia. For this project, the artists are using a car which they transformed so that it has become their home, studio and means of transport. In the next few months they are going to paint, draw, take photographs and make videos, as well as keep a travel journal. Matahari is created by artists who are open to the unknown, who seek to connect with exotic – at least from European perspective – communities, and who are convinced that there is balance between Western and Eastern cultures.


Project is the result of cooperation between the Biała Gallery and the Center of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko.

bloga – Matahari


When in 2010 a special kind of reality fatigue pervaded Europe, and Poland in particular, we were preparing for our first trip to Asia.

The world behind the window, which not long ago was dying of longing for everything that was Western, now got locked into studied poses justified by an unshaken imperative of progress, modernization and growth. Last local shops located in Praga District in Warsaw struggled to compete with big store chains such as Biedronka, Carrefour and Lidl, whereas the artistic community, smelling the scent of money, defined a new type of warrior. Dialog ended, meetings became shorter, groups started to split up, bonds got broken. Something was dying and we all saw it. It was happening before our eyes and our evening discussions only confirmed that. We loved the same things, did the same things, fought the same enemy, watched the same movies, read the same books and made the same art. Second-hand became obligatory and everything that it represented started to be our everyday prayer. When we were leaving, we hoped to find a place on earth unscathed by this ‘tsunami wave’ – the place where people live in accordance with tradition which we were deprived of because of the tragic history of our country and in which we saw the hope of finding meaning in life destroyed by the system ruled by corporate terror, dressed in colorful attire of consumerism, modernism, growth, loan and this goddamn TV propaganda on who pulled whose leg and how.

We are neither escapees nor enemies of progress or Western culture. We are just advocates of conscious and sustainable approach, on both individual and collective levels. Witnessing rampant degradation of environment accompanied by human isolation from nature, we have noticed the aftermath of these processes and consciously chosen a different lifestyle, simultaneously broadening our knowledge on human existence on earth.

We spent several years among people living on remote islands. In Thailand we used our eyes to communicate with the Seafarers. In Cambodia we saw people collecting plastic garbage around their houses as a token of prosperity and wealth. In Malaysia we got lost in the jungle. The sky-blue sea and white sand were the setting for carefree, endless frolics in the Philippines. We visited Indonesia, whose seventeen thousand islands hide treasures still waiting to be discovered. And in India we learnt that it is a faux pas to you say ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m sorry’. We would stay away from the cities to commune with nature as much as possible. With time it became our home. We longed for working outside with our hands – for manual labor based on experience. We realized that art, no matter what it becomes, expresses emotions associated with experiencing nature. All doubts disappear the moment nature starts speaking to you.

You breathe deeper in Asia, which resembles Europe of 1990s. It has got its dark side, but the sense of freedom and diversity can still be felt there. We closely observe this world and every day we look for answers to questions that arise when you live outside your culture. Language and customs often create a gap that makes communication difficult. Still, however, Asia provides us not only with inspiration but also with an intense experience that deepens our knowledge about ourselves.

In 2015, when we were in Indonesia, we bought a car that we converted into a mobile studio. We built a house on wheels that gave us a lot independence and allowed us to live away from civilization. In August we went on our first trip that we called Matahari, which is a word for ‘sun’. This project resulted from our fascination with nature and our own private cult of the sun. We decided to research indigenous communities identifying themselves as animists, who have lived in a traditional way for thousands years. During our first trip we visited several islands east of Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Sumba. Unfortunately, that first trip did not finish as planned due to the failure of the only ferry from Sumba to Kupang on the island of Timor.

For this reason we decided to hit the road again in the hope of reaching all the intended destinations. Luckily, our house on wheels lived through the rainy season in Indonesia and recently even underwent some upgrading. We changed the wheels, raised suspension and installed solar power system.

Furthermore, we decided to keep a sort of journey diary to record everyday experiences. This diary is also to complement, in a way, the Matahari project as well as to show ‘behind the scenes’ of the exhibition that is going to be opened at the Biała Gallery in Lublin on December 9, 2016, to which we cordially invite you.

We are on Sumba Island.
We left Sape harbor on Sumbawa with a 27-hour delay. We spent the night on Pertamina, but the rest of the people were camping on bare ground with all their belongings within the reach of their hands and their animals tied with strings to their legs. There are more than seventeen thousand islands in Indonesia, but still the sea transport is at the level that makes it impossible to even find out when the ferry leaves so that you can buy tickets in advance. At the same time, a ticket office is open only for few hours, just before the departure time.
Utter chaos. In the harbor, we met a group of bikers from France. One of them has been on the road for two years and he is a true demon of strong will. The rest of the group joined him for just a few weeks. It was good to talk to them and exchange our experiences. Nine hours on the ferry passed quickly. We were sailing at night by the full moon, listening to the sound of fierce waves. When the lights of our island destination appeared on the horizon, all engines stopped and people started running around the deck screaming that there was a problem; that there was no diesel. The ferry ran out of fuel and we got stuck, drifting and rolling from one side to another. Loaded up to the ceiling with trucks, the ship was cracking at the seams. In search of some solution, people were looking overboard. Somehow the crew managed to start a spare generator and we slowly reached the harbor. There was nothing but chaos. Cars from the land attempted to drive on the ferry before those already there drove out of it. People did exactly the same. Uniformed services tried to ease the congestion. When disembarking, we appreciated the fact that our car had a raised suspension, as the platform connecting the ferry to the mainland was for trucks, and no passenger car would overcome such a barrier.

It was one in the morning, so we went directly to Lamboja, where Arno was building his house. His land is located in the southern part of the island, right next to the place where every year the famous festival – Pasola – is organized. This region, where the ocean meets the land, is incredibly beautiful and intact. It is a paradise for surfers. The condition of roads has gotten much worse since last fall. Rainy season has done its job and at times we had the impression that we were participating in a night off-road. Previously, we visited the island during the dry season when it was smothered in hot brown colors and the black of burned-out fields. This time the grass was not only green and one meter high, but also roads seemed to be narrower. In comparison with other islands, the temperature at night was much lower. It was around twenty degrees Celsius and we got really cold during our first night.

In the morning we met with our landlord and started a rather comical talk in Bahasa Indonesia. We know just few words in Indonesian, but they are enough for a simple conversation. We brewed some sirsaka and moringa, and served it with some fish that we had from our trip to Sumbawa.

Despite being seventy-five years old, our guest was slender and still in shape. Sipping herbal tea and eating fish, he started to complain about his health.

Seconds later, Alicja became his doctor and he – her patient. He enjoyed the herbs and in the evening he brought us some fresh moringa which we used to make supper. On our way back from the coast we were approached by a group of kids selling coconuts. We bought twelve of them and returned home with the procession of children following us. While we were preparing dinner, the group was watching our every move. After ten minutes we had enough of it and since the entire process lasted for over an hour, we got really annoyed.

This is one of the characteristics of people in Indonesia. They are extremely nosy and capable of looking into every nook and cranny while observing you for hours. They are like cats circling around a set table. Neither stamping your feet nor clapping your hands can help.

They do it both individually and in groups. Encouraged by their comrades, they start joking in a jeering way, creating a very unpleasant atmosphere.

In situations like that it is important to pull yourself together quickly and scurry off as soon as possible.

The next day we visited the city of Waikabubak, where we had our car fixed in the garage run by a Chinese family.

We recommend this place as the only reliable one in Indonesia, and we know what we are talking about, since we have seen at least a few dozen car mechanics. In the afternoon, we accidentally witnessed some kind of ceremony in one of the villages.

Ten pigs were killed for four hundred and fifty guests. Pigs were slaughtered and their meat boiled in large pots. All guests were sitting and chatting, and after the food was served everybody went home.

The feast was organized by one of the families.

During the celebration one of the guests went into convulsions. Writhing in pain while being carried by some people, the man was screaming hysterically. He probably died soon after as we heard women lamenting.

Despite the incident, the party continued. Meat was shared out, soup was poured; people were drinking strong black tea along with moonshine, and they smoked zillions of cigarettes. Indonesians smoke anywhere and anytime – while riding motorbikes, on air-conditioned buses or during meals. Here, lung cancer takes huge toll, but no one seem to care.

On Sumba Island people smoke local tobacco. A true cult, however, is the cult of meat. Meat is everything. Everyone dreams about chewing a fresh slice of the most valued treasure from a black pig. Ceremonies without blood and meat have no power. Slaying and chopping puts people in a sort of trance, during which they perform perfect moves with long, razor-sharp knives. They get all sweaty and pant like horses in a race, wading in pools of blood and reeking of animal intestines extracted from hot flesh. Each and every piece of chopped meat is recorded and assigned to a particular person. The best ones are for the most important guests, and the rest – for the common people. The cast system is still present here and its rules are strictly obeyed.

The crowd watching this carnage keeps chewing betel known as siripina. The ground around them is tinged with red from the spat-out remnants.

The red also dyes their lips, which, along with the carpet of blood from slaughtered animals, create a truly vampiric spectacle.

The ceremony took place in one of the villages near the city of Waikabubak, where the traditional animist religion of Marapu, is still practiced.

It is also a custom that people from the village ask for money and an entry in their guestbook. Leaving Waikabubak we visited a local market. Papaya and fish were at prices intended for Bule, but we managed to make some arrangements to buy some sirsaka leaves on Wednesday.

On our way back we stopped by at the China shop selling Bintang and we set off to Lamboja. In the morning we left Western Sumba and headed east, to the city of Waingapu, to learn when the ferry to Kupangu on the island of Timor was leaving. Yet again we stopped by at the market to collect a large bag of sirsaka leaves that we had ordered two days before. The ferry was to depart on Friday at one in the afternoon, so we had the whole day at the beach on the north coast. We discovered that place a year before, and it was amazing. There were only us and some fishermen living under tarpaulin. They are very friendly and totally occupied with their everyday lives. We finally had a break from ‘hallo mister’. The sea was wonderful and we were having a great time.

In the evening, when the Milky Way illuminated the horizon, we were approached by a car full of people. Alicja thought that they wanted to rob us and she got really scared. However, the men left the car, got changed into funny clothes, put some masks on, grabbed their crossbows and ran to the sea.

A few of them stayed on the land and set the fire to cook the catch and so that those who went fishing could warm up upon return.

Two hours later we got one lobster, an octopus and two big fishes. They had real monsters in their baskets, including an enormous squid with a shell like a turtle, a huge spiked fish, which people inflate and then dry, and some other fishes that looked like tiny crocodiles. Fortunately, we had some ice in the refrigerator so we saved everything for the next day. We woke up before dawn, when one side of the sky turns red. As it is usually cold at that hour, it is possible to work physically. We started the day with sorting out sirsaka leaves and drying them out. Sirsaka is great. It has a sweet smell of currant.

That day we brewed some fresh branches. They have a stimulating effect and taste different than dried ones, which offer more essence and aroma. We also prepared papaya leaves that we had bought at yet another market, near the field where Pasola takes place. We spent the day playing in the sea and basking in the sun. In the afternoon, we went to the shop to buy some coffee, which we missed a lot. In the evening, we marveled at a beautiful sunset and, seconds later, at the Milky Way. This is the kind of cinema that we long for in the city. Staring at this unique screen, we experienced a strong sense of unity with nature and we felt really good.

Nature is fascinating and puzzling at the same time.


                                                                         Matahari / Sun / Słońce,  Alicja Łukasiak, Grzegorz Drozd, Car Pantera, 2015 photo: Alicja Łukasiak

Projekt Matahari

Alicja Łukasiak oraz Grzegorz Drozd wyruszyli w artystyczną podróż po archipelagach wysp Indonezyjskich w poszukiwaniu inspiracji oraz twórczej pracy. W ramach tego projektu artyści zaadaptowali samochód, pełniący funkcję domu, pracowni oraz środka transportu. W trakcie ich kilkumiesięcznej wędrówki powstaną prace malarskie, rysunkowe, fotograficzne, filmy oraz dziennik. Matahari tworzą artyści otwarci na nieznane, szukający kontaktu z egzotycznymi, z naszej europejskiej perspektywy, społecznościami oraz w poczuciu istnienia balansu pomiędzy kulturą Zachodu i Wschodu.


Projekt realizowany w ramach współpracy Galerii Białej i CRP w Orońsku.



                                                                         Matahari / Sun / Słońce,  Alicja Łukasiak, Grzegorz Drozd, Car Pantera, 2015 photo: Alicja Łukasiak Trójka

Świat z lotu Drozda

Samochodem przez Indonezję. Artystyczna wyprawa Grzegorza i Alicji

Tytuł audycji: Świat z lotu Drozda

Prowadzi: Paweł Drozd
Goście: Alicja Łukasiak i Grzegorz Drozd (artyści, podróżnicy),

Data emisji: 14.01.2018

Godzina emisji: 8.07