World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 78 - Mario Bosse

Mario Bosse makes toys, puppets. They have a warlike appearance. The toys are based on drawings he makes digitally. The toy is made of wood from the Pulai tree (Astonia Scolaris).

I speak with Mario in the Café of the Hague Filmhouse. He picks up a colored puppet from a box. It is nicely colored. Krak is his name. It can move its arms. It is made of a very flexible type of wood. Mario, who calls himself sometimes Oboss: “It is a herb timber. You can also make herbal drinks from it.  It grows very fast. In five to seven years, the tree has grown. It is more than eight meters in length and has a diameter of 30/40 centimeter. Six to twelve month after you have planted it, you can already cut branches and chop it into small pieces. And then I start to carve it.”

KRAK

When the puppet has the right shape, Mario paints it with acrylic paint in bright colors. There are now three: one red, one blue and one green. Krak has something of a dragon, a dinosaur and a rhinoceros. There is also something Dutch to Krak, because when Mario, who is originally from Indonesia, had to come up with a name he combined the aggressive KR with the last two letters of dragon in Dutch, draak. Together KRAK.

Mario is originally from Yogyakarta and lives about two/three years in The Hague. He works for his uncle. He cooks, cleans the house and makes sure everything is present as there are official guests. It takes some five hours a day. When he finishes this work, he spends the rest of the time to his artistic work.

Krak and the Robo’s (Ro80)

Mario also has a real Indonesian name: Bagus Pramutya Kuswidyanto. His artistic name Mario Bosse dates back twenty-five years ago. He then played video football games and had to enter a nickname. He made an Italian-Dutch combination. The first name, Mario, Italian, and the surname, Bosse, Dutch. And that name he still uses.

Mario makes a lot of drawings of heroic males. Men with swords and men that look like Vkings, with two solid horns on their heads. Those are the Robo’s. Often they have a white face. Behind Krak and the Robo’s there are many stories, says Mario. And those stories have to do with people around him, friends, family and how Indonesia is functioning.

Friday the 13th

About the aggressive element he says: “Everyone has a primitive instinct. Not everyone realizes this, but everyone can be a monster. It is part of the human behavior, and you can find it anywhere, on the whole earth. Keywords are: anxiety, territories, selfishness and the urge to put yourself in the spotlight.”

The Robo’s are watching Krak all the time. Sometimes there is a a good communication between the Robo’s and Krak, but the Robo’s can also be selfish. Is there a connection between the Robo’s and Krak and Wajang, the Indonesian shadows theater? Mario: “In Wajang it is important that the main characters, Krishna, Arjuna, are in a good relationship with the people around them. That element is also in my toys. But my characters are inspired more by Japanese manga and US superheroes, Jason from Friday the 13th for example.”

Graphic Design

Thirty years ago, everyone was very friendly against each other in Yogyakarta, he says. “But about ten years ago that changed. People became more individualistic and selfish. People also greeted each other much less on the street.” Mario studied law at that time, at the University of Yogyakarta. He was about to graduate, but he had suddenly enough.

“Everyone had to have a university degree. Only then you are truly part of society. It was forced upon very much and I went along with it. But I did not do it wholeheartedly. I had much more artistic interests. The consequences of stopping are serious, because if you do not have a title, you’re a nobody.”

For five years he worked at a small graphic design business. He also worked for five years at a small gallery shop of his brother in the tourist area of Yogyakarta. He worked a lot with a friend and with his brothers. With that friend, an artist, he had many conversations how they would develop their art. And also how they could make a living from it. They exhibited a few times.

The Pulai Tree

But they had a different view on how to organize the whole. Mario wanted that his works were not sold too cheap. To pay the rent and the bills they would create silkscreen prints on t-shirts. His art friend thought that going too far. Are you still an artist then?

They parted. Three years later he met his friend again. And guess what? His friend had t-shirts printed to earn some money. Mario, the eldest of the family, discussed his ideas now with his brothers. He had designed his first black male and wanted to make a toy of it. How could he do that, which material was suitable?

“I inquired, throughout Indonesia. Without result. Two years ago we had a family gathering. And who came with a bright idea? Precisely my younger brother. “I can make it”, he said, “I know a suitable tree, I can saw the branches into pieces. It was the Pulai Tree, the Astonia Scolaris.”

To Europe

Mario always dreamed of going to Europe. And now that he is in Europe, he would prefer to stay, if possible in The Netherlands. In December 2012, his uncle, the diplomat, invited him to a party in Yogyakarta. Was Mario interested to go with him? To the Netherlands. He could work for him five hours a day and the rest of the time for himself, and also make necessary contacts. Was it interesting for him? He did not know what he heard. Fantastic of course!

With his brother he arranged that he would send him the material, sometimes even cut, and Mario would finish and look for commercial opportunities. He is busy doing this. He is making use of social media, Facebook and Instagram. He had an exhibition at the Sis Josip Gallery in The Hague. And recently he was at Dutch Comic Con at the Jaarbeurs (Trade Fair) in Utrecht. 

“With a German friend, I discussed there  the possiblities to do something in a German gallery.” Earlier he had contact with Jerome Krom of the Outland Designer Toy Store & Art Gallery. “He asked if my toys might be made in resin or vinyl, instead of wood. That’s not so simple. It would for example be produced in China. I’m thinking about it.”

Collective performance

Mario stresses that his toys are a collective achievement and therefore a quarter of the sales will go to anyone who plays a role. Those who planted the Pulai trees and their children to Mario’s brothers and mother. His father, an antique dealer, died in 2006. “My family had everything, but we had to start again from the beginning. Obviously the spinning wheel must always run!”

Asked about his artistic philosophy, he says: “Always believe in your dreams, and stay true to yourself.”

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