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The Intersection of Food and Life as Painted by Nino Yuniardi

By: Ilona Salim

Pumpkin Stew Over Sticky Rice, Crab Legs Banana Cream Pie and Jelly Beans Hainan Chicken Rice? If you think I’m reading through an eccentric restaurant menu, guess again! These are just the names of a few art pieces from the “Melting Pot Series” by Seattle-based artist Nino Yuniardi. This week we are collaborating with Nino to dig a little deeper into his connection with food and the role it plays in bringing his artwork to life.

Nino Yuniardi received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pasadena Art Center College of Design and is committed to a lifelong journey to discover his authentic voice. A lot of his pieces showcase paradoxical beauty and tension, both coexisting in one canvas. One that caught our eye and sparked this collaboration is his Melting Pot series – a collection ‘inspired by the intersection of food and life’. He uses food as a vehicle to ignite discussions on difficult, yet necessary issues we are facing today. We are so excited to explore a different aspect of food through this piece. I’m going to stop fangirling now, and let Nino explain his work in his own words.

Hi friends! I'm Nino Yuniardi, (b.1973) -- writing my birth year like a legit artist. HA! I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, and immigrated to Seattle, WA after high school. I learned to paint when I was in 9th grade and immediately got hooked. Ever since then, it has become my go-to activity whenever I needed help making sense of the world.
After studying design and art in college, I started working full time as a software designer. Finding it difficult to separate myself from art, I started to nibble on it, and to my surprise, it grew into something more. For the past five years, I have decided to lean more into my art-making and give it as much time and attention as possible. I’m glad I made that change -- I now know that this is what I’d love to do for the rest of my life.

Wow, that’s awesome! What a change! We are so glad you took that turn and went into art again. We are really big fans of your work-- from the bright colors, funky shapes, and mouthwatering titles, your works are always so dynamic. When did you first develop this idea of incorporating food? What was the rationale behind it?

About two years ago, I had to revisit some unpleasant memories of living as a teenager in a not-so-friendly neighborhood. My sister and I experienced blind hatred and harassment daily from other kids just because we looked different from them. Reflecting back, I came to the realization that the co-existence of love and hate will never go away, and it was up to me to make the choice and embrace one of the two. I choose love. Love of painting, love of food, and love of humankind.

My art-making is my journey forward to believing in human kindness. We are all different, unique, and special in our own ways. Similarly, food ingredients are different, unique, and special in their own ways. Different people and different ingredients inspire me to see our humanity in a brighter light. In my artwork, I create unique food combinations to portray different people coexisting in a canvas and being kind to one another.

That’s brilliant! We’re curious! Could you talk us through a little of your process? For example; when do you name your pieces?

Usually after.
It's an intuitive process with a hint of an idea on what story I want to tell. During art-making, I experiment with new materials, colors, shapes, and focus on discovering new things with a carefree atmosphere. Only after multiple sessions and layers, will I start to analyze my color combinations, compositions, and overall design language. Each piece can take as little as two sessions and as many as eight sessions (or sometimes more).

Well on that note, is there a story behind each piece of artwork? For example, your Jelly Bean Hainan Chicken Rice?

Each painting in my Melting Pot series has a representation of food-related ingredients in them. The Jelly Bean Hainan Chicken Rice was inspired by some Hainan rice takeout that week and jelly beans laying around at my house. The great thing about abstract painting or any piece of art for that matter is that it doesn't have to be rational. If it speaks to you, you listen. Stop overthinking it.

Right! That is true! I love that your inspiration can be so simple as to just looking around the house. Let’s manifest it! If you could pick anywhere, where do you want your art to be displayed? Is there one person you wish could see your work?

Everyone and anyone’s home a.k.a I want you all to have my paintings!

Have you always known that you wanted to be an artist? How was that journey for you?

I always love art-making, and the journey is not a freeway. The journey resembles more like a backroad muddy path on a donkey… but a fun donkey! :D

What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?

A realization that I love making art, and knowing that I can do this forever if I choose to.

Thank you so much Nino for being our guest collaboration this week! If you are interested in purchasing

any of his works or just want his beautiful paintings on your feed, head over to his website or his instagram @ninoyuniardi

As a bonus!!! Bitesize decided to create a dish inspired by one of Nino’s artworks from the Melting Pot series - “Crab Legs Banana Cream Pie”. For our dish, we made Crab Cakes on a bed of plantain chips, served with garlic aioli. We wanted to incorporate all the color components in Nino’s artwork whilst creating a delicious dish. Since we didn’t want to make a literal crab banana cream pie (haha!), we used the banana and crab in a savory way and reimagined the cream as a garlic aioli dipping sauce! Hope you enjoy! Don't forget to give Nino Yuniardi some love on his website

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