17/71 Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan Curator Mikke Susanto during the Curators Tour of the National Gallery of Indonesia
The Indonesian art world has good reasons to rejoice. Not only has August been declared The Month of Art by the Provincial Government of Jakarta and Indonesia’s Creative Economic Agency, but with three prominent art events under wraps, we may now reflect on the significance of the month gone by.
These world-class events, two international boutique art fairs and one landmark Indonesian modern art exhibition, reach further than mere art dealing. They have helped consolidate Jakarta’s presence as a leading Asian art hub, and thus strike a deeper chord than that of art: that of identity and national pride.
Art Stage Jakarta 2016
This was underlined by the main exhibition of the month, held from 2 – 30 August at Jakarta’s National Gallery of Indonesia, which presented 28 paintings from the big collection (over 3000 works) assembled by Indonesia’s founding father President Sukarno. Titled 17/71, Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan (The Brushstrokes of the Independence Struggle) it was opened on August 17th, on the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of independence by the current President Joko Widodo. The exhibitions featured scenes of the independence struggle by Indonesian maestros such as Affandi, Sudjojono and Raden Saleh alongside pictures of iconic Indonesia by painters such as Rudolf Bonnet, Srihadi and Walter Spies.
This event was followed successively by the first edition of Art Stage Jakarta, an offshoot of Art Stage Singapore, held at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City from 5 to 7 August, and by Bazaar Art Jakarta (BAJ) 2016, the eighth installment of Indonesia’s first and biggest art fair, held at the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place from 25 – 28 August. The characteristics of each fair’s differing approaches to engaging August revealed their individual brand appeal.
Art Restoration Display by Monica Gunawan at BAJ 2016
Art Stage Jakarta (ASJ), themed “Heart Beat of Asia”, featured 49 international and Indonesian galleries, BAJ was supported by 42. Presenting over 1500 works from 19 local galleries BAJ 2016, themed “Food For The Soul # Indonesian Pride”, was joined by 23 international galleries from the USA, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, France, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong and Spain. ASJ was represented by international galleries form Singapore, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany, Australia, and Russia.
While both fairs showed some of the best available international contemporary art, local galleries all exhibited their highest quality work to match foreign competition. Importance was placed on displaying Indonesian modern art via auction houses and a few selected galleries, and art projects.
“Kawan Kawasan Revolusi” 1947 – Sudjojono 17/71 Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan
ASJ featured a comprehensive VIP program, including exclusive visits to the homes of top Indonesian collectors to view their private collections. This was supported by two special exhibitions Affandi: The Human Face and Expose: The Collectors’ Show, and an array of iconic contemporary works throughout the exhibition space. BAJ 2016’s diverse program including EDUart, educational art programs, performances, children’s painting competition, Art Charity Auction, merchandise stores, and projects inspiring future generations of creatives lent to a greater community appeal. Both fairs included programs of informative art talks. Big attendances were backed by strong sales, with many sold out gallery booths.
Sotheby’s Indonesia Director Jasmine Prayseto Discussing Affandi During ASJ 2016 Media Tour of the Special Exhibition of Affandi: The Human Face
Auction houses have led the way in promoting Indonesian art abroad and their presence was significant in educating fair goers and collectors, as the majority of Indonesia’s modern art is in private collections. Sotheby’s was instrumental in the ASJ’s Affandi exhibition, and at BAJ previewed works by Indonesian masters, living and deceased, from their upcoming Hong Kong Autumn Sales. Complimenting this at BAJ was Sidharta Auctioneers, ISA Art Advisory, and a special modern art project.
Both fairs were also the platform for international galleries to introduce their international artists to Indonesian collectors and fair attendees. Collectors had the advantage of choosing from international art, and regional art, some being rich in distinctive cultural flavors appealing to local tastes; a bonus to purchase on home turf thus avoiding shipping and import issues. Both art fairs featured big name local artist’s works, trophy pieces with potent social status value. Collectors with a sharp eye sought out the rising stars of Indonesian art who show distinctive styles and promise, while their prices are yet to become too high.
Huge Evening Crowds Were a Feature of BAJ 2016
Art Stage’s move to Indonesia is a clear signal of the strength and potential of the market and the quality of Indonesian art. With art increasingly being seen as a store of value and an asset class, and local art being considered cheap by global standards the world’s eyes are increasingly focused upon Indonesia.
Overall Indonesia is the winner, the art industry and collectors being the beneficiaries. Opportunities for networking, cross-cultural dialogue and exchange are also essential to the evolution of the Indonesian art world. Yet arguably the most significant factor, underpinned by the National Gallery exhibition is the reminder that creativity is a potent feature of the Indonesian identity, and a timely hint to the masses of the relevance of art and culture to the nation.
Mall Art Installation by Eko Nguhoro at Pacific Place Jakarta During BAJ 2016
Painting by Walter Spies in 17/71 Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan
Words & Images: Richard Horstman
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