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The astonishing simplicity of the Indonesian landscape


Hengki Koentjoro, born and bred amongst thousands of Indonesian islands, is a photographer who made it his mission to retell the astonishing simplicity of his homeland.

Born in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia in 1963, Koentjoro headed to California to hone his craft at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. What ensued was in an intense studying period that allowed Koentjoro to learn the tools that would allow him to home his craft in video production and fine art photography.

“Photography can never be separated from the aspects of making the common things unusual, welcoming the unexpected, indulging and embracing ourselves with the joy of photography,” the artist once said. It is that mentality that saw him return home to Indonesia destined to create work in the black and white format, telling a tale of the unexpected.

While Koentjoro has referenced people such as Ansel Adams and Michael Kenna as creative inspirations, the artist is strongly bound by the teachings of Zen Buddhism as a reason for the direction he has taken: “They look at this world in a most uncomplicated way,” he once said in an interview with Featureshoot. 

While the majority of his work features a focal point of interest, it’s his use of the negative space around it that is so compelling. Using long exposure and his now-iconic black and white style, Koentjoro creates an atmosphere in almost any situation.

“Black and white is more pliable to me,” he said in a separate conversation with Minimalism Mag. “It is easy to play with, it is rich with tonality and it gives that mystic and mystery feel to the overall ambience,” he added.

“I love atmospheric photography and this medium is a perfect expression to the spirit. Black and white straight goes to the soul while the colour will distract the core of the spirit.”

Here is a selection of work created by Hengki Koentjoro: