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How BEKRAF and Art Jakarta 2017 supported emerging Indonesian artists

Richard Horstman
Richard Horstman

Artivist, observes and reports on developments in the Bali and Indonesian art scenes

Jakarta | Mon, August 7, 2017 | 10:05 am
How BEKRAF and Art Jakarta 2017 supported emerging Indonesian artists

A visitor looks at BEKRAF's booth in the Art Jakarta 2017 art fair. (JP/Richard Horstman)

Art Jakarta 2017, Indonesia’s first boutique art fair celebrated its ninth edition this year, presenting 53 exhibitors from around the world at the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place, on the 27-30 July. Showcasing more than 2,000 artworks to local and international audiences, one of the highlights was a new collaborative program with the Indonesia Creative Economy Agency (BEKRAF) inviting young artists to participate in the special section, BEKRAF INDONESIAN EMERGING ARTISTS at Art Jakarta 2017.

Themed #UNITYINDIVERSITY and open to men and women aged 33 years and below, presenting 2D works and 3D works, 45 entries were selected from the country’s major creative centers of Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Bali, along with cities throughout Java, and locations as far east as Kupang and Papua.

Read also: Here’s what you shouldn’t miss at 2017 Art Jakarta

“Within a one month period the Open Call process received an enormous response from a total of 473 artists,” said Art Jakarta creative director Rifky Effendi, who, along with Asmudjo J Irianto and Deddy Koswara, comprised the selection committee. “Mostly young artists do not have access to the public, however, this special exhibition is both an important and excellent opportunity to be seen by the art public, galleries, dealers and collectors,” Effendi said. “We were surprised by the quality of the applicants' work, revealing a lot of potential outside of the mainstream places.”

For Nyoman Arisana, one of two successful Balinese applicants the prospect of exhibiting side-by-side with some of Indonesia’s finest young artists at an international fair, along with going to the nation’s capital ignited conflicting emotions. The winner of the First TiTian Prize awarded in January by Yayasan TiTian Bali (YTB), honoring Balinese visual art talent, Arisana had never ventured outside of his island home, nor had he travelled on an airplane before.

“Exhibiting on an international platform at Art Jakarta 2017 is a very special learning experience for me,” said the 27-year-old Arisana, before his departure. “I am thrilled, yet nervous too.”

A painting by Nyoman Arisana is displayed at BEKRAF's booth in the Art Jakarta 2017 art fair. Despite his success in Bali, Arisana had never ventured outside of his island home, nor had he traveled on an airplane before.A painting by Nyoman Arisana is displayed at BEKRAF's booth in the Art Jakarta 2017 art fair. Despite his success in Bali, Arisana had never ventured outside of his island home, nor had he traveled on an airplane before. (JP/Richard Horstman)

“Europhia Budaya, 2017”, Arisana’s  vibrant painting in the BEKRAF INDONESIAN EMERGING ARTISTS at Art Jakarta 2017, at a glance appears as an abstract composition, dominated by horizontal wavy lines. Closer inspection, however, discloses a work that is the meeting of both modern and traditional painting styles and techniques. The narrative is a detailed background composition of a dynamic Balinese ceremony revealing the bridging of two cultures: the Chinese and Balinese. Within the milieu of activity Arisana colorfully depicts the Balinese naga (dragon) and the Chinese dragon, the Balinese Barong and a similar ceremonial character, the Chinese Lion, along with other iconography that draws upon long-lasting cultural parallels.   

Read also: Presidential art collections on display throughout August

“The wavy lines across the composition symbolize a connection that cannot be broken,” said the artist who was raised in the village of Dauhuma, Gianyar, within a community of traditional painters specializing in egg painting, a miniature style depicting traditional narratives on forms made from fiberglass. “A connection between the positive and negative aspects of the universe, and the connection between the Chinese and Balinese cultures.”

Speaking about his experience at Art Jakarta 2017, that after 6 pm attracted enormous numbers of attendees, Arisana said. “I enjoyed engaging with many people from different backgrounds, both local and international. Many were very interested in the Balinese culture and it was a great opportunity for me to share about my heritage. The public appreciation for my art work was beyond my expectations!”

“One of BEKRAF’s primary goals is to provide support for emerging artists to showcase their work at Art Jakarta 2017, bringing the artists together with the market,” said the marketing deputy of BEKRAF, Joshua Mulia Simanjuntak. “Art is one of the 16 sub-sectors of the creative economy for which BEKRAF is responsible. The art sector can certainly provide economic value, not only for the artists and the art industry, but also for Indonesia's foreign exchange earnings.”

“BEKRAF has an important role in the formation of the art ecosystem. From research and education, access to capital, infrastructure, intellectual property rights, institutional and territorial relationships to marketing,” Simanjuntak said.  “Our task is to help build this ecosystem in order to create a value chain that supports the development of art in national and international markets. Art Jakarta is an international-standard fair, and an appropriate event to link art lovers, observers and collectors with talented young artists and their works.”

“We are excited by the positive response to BEKRAF INDONESIAN EMERGING ARTISTS at Art Jakarta 2017. Works were sold to collectors from Indonesia, America, France and Turkey,” Efffendy said on July 31, post event.  “Art Jakarta looks forward to collaborating again with BEKRAF in 2018.”

“I was initially shocked by my first observations of Jakarta, many tall buildings, excessive traffic jams, pollution, lack of greenery and crowded social conditions,” Arisana said and continued. “This was, however, an important step in my career development and I have made positive new connections. To my surprise, many people emailed me expressing how much they liked my painting, and asking for photos of my other works.” (asw)

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Richard Horstman, a cultural observer with over 25 years experience in Indonesia, has supported the Bali & Indonesian art scenes for more than 9 years as a journalist, writer, art tourism presenter & Advisor at Cata Odata Art Space in Ubud. A bridge between the art world and the public, he’s been published in the Jakarta Post and various newspaper.

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