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Art in 2017: Creative energy on the move

Carla Bianpoen and Stevie Emilia
Carla Bianpoen and Stevie Emilia

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, December 21, 2017 | 09:58 am
Art in 2017: Creative energy on the move

Past and present: Bale Kambang by artist Eko Prawoto is on display at an exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Indonesia at Bonaparte Dock and Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp, Belgium, for the Europalia Arts Festival. (Indonesia National Gallery/Tom Van Ghent)

Undeterred by continuing commercial quiet in the art world, Indonesia’s artists and enthusiasts go the extra mile, infusing the art scene with astounding creative energy.

INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITIONS

A selected number of artists have been busy creating works based on colonial history for the 2017 Europalia Arts Festival, an international biannual arts and culture festival in Europe, which this year took Indonesia as its focus country.

At the four-month festival, which runs until Jan. 21 next year, Indonesia aims to showcase the country’s diversity by presenting nearly 250 programs.

Read also: First exhibition for Indonesian comics history held in Brussels

Meanwhile, a number of artists took part in the exhibition “Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now,” held at the Mori Museum and the National Art Center in Tokyo, which is now on its way to Fukuoka.

While it is not immediately known how many other international events have included Indonesian artists, it seems there was a huge amount of creative energy on the move. 

Given the abovementioned successes, the outlook for next year is fairly optimistic.

KALIJODO

Artist Teguh Osentrik poses in front of his art installation made with four slabs of berlin wall in Kalijodo Park, North Jakarta, Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The installation titled Artist Teguh Osentrik poses in front of his art installation made with four slabs of berlin wall in Kalijodo Park, North Jakarta, Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The installation titled (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Veteran artist Teguh Ostenrik wowed the public by setting up four authentic sections of the Berlin wall in his thrilling art installation, titled Patung Menembus Batas (Sculpture that Breaks Boundaries) at the Kalijodo child friendly integrated public space in Jakarta, which the artist created in memory of the Berlin Wall, and which he related to current situations at home.

Read also: Teguh Ostenrik’s: Berlin Wall in Jakarta: Art to overcome divisive powers

The artist waited for 27 years before finally making the project a reality in Jakarta. The wall was the defining symbol of the Cold War that divided East Berlin and its Western parts and Europe from 1961 to 1989. Teguh himself lived near the wall for over 10 years.

“I saw the perilous impact of the wall in Berlin, the dramatic and fatal impact [the wall] had on human lives and I felt signs of similar trends had already reached my country back then.”

YOUNG TALENT

Youthful force: A visitor poses with Ronald Apriyam’s paintings at Art Jakarta 2017 at Pacific Place in Jakarta. The arts fair, previously known as Bazaar Art, showcased a wide range of works by young artists and positioned itself as the people’s arts fair. Youthful force: A visitor poses with Ronald Apriyam’s paintings at Art Jakarta 2017 at Pacific Place in Jakarta. The arts fair, previously known as Bazaar Art, showcased a wide range of works by young artists and positioned itself as the people’s arts fair. (JP/Carla Bianpoen)

The rise of young talent could easily be seen this year at Art Jakarta (formerly Bazaar Art), where upcoming artists from various parts of Indonesia revealed a surprising creativity in work and thought.

Great artistic talent was also revealed in the fifth edition of the Bandung Contemporary Art Awards (BaCAA) held for artists under 40, showing an ever advancing number of excellence in works with creative concepts including social matters, scientific knowledge and humane sensitivity.

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

Worth mentioning is the publication of LipLap, a book on 35 Bandung artists under 35, which was conceptualized by young artists in cooperation with artist-led Gerilya Gallery and Omnispace, and supported by Melbourne-based collector Konfir Kabo’s Project 11, which is described as “a giving initiative which seeks to support artists and projects that make an imprint on their field.”

There was also the “Bandung Re-Emergence” exhibition at the Selasar Sunaryo gallery, which challenged artists of the previous “Bandung New-Emergence” to review their works with today’s interpretation.

ART STAGE JAKARTA

The surge of creative energy in Indonesia’s art world, especially in the second half of the year, was marked by, among other things, the launch of the ALEQS, an art award founded by Art Stage Jakarta, which was in its second iteration this year.The surge of creative energy in Indonesia’s art world, especially in the second half of the year, was marked by, among other things, the launch of the ALEQS, an art award founded by Art Stage Jakarta, which was in its second iteration this year. (JP/Carla Bianpoen)

The surge of creative energy in Indonesia’s art world, especially in the second half of the year, was marked by, among other things, the launch of the ALEQS, an art award founded by Art Stage Jakarta, which was in its second iteration this year.

Encompassing the entire art ecosystem, this first-ever award was handed to the best in 13 separate categories displaying Authenticity, Leadership, Excellence, Quality and Seriousness in art.

The awards included Best Collector, Best Curator, Best Artist, Best Gallery, Best Gallerist, Best Young Curator, Best Young Gallery and Best Senior Collectors.

The Best Collector award was won by businessman Haryanto Adikoesoemo, whose collection encompasses local and international artworks and who is also the owner of the newly opened Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN).

Other winners were long-durational performance artist Melati Suryodarmo, who is also this year’s director of the Jakarta Biennale; Enin Supriyanto, who won the Best Curator award; ROH Projects, which received both the Best Gallery and Best Young Gallery awards; and the Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA), which collected the award for Best Art Institution.

Life Achievement Awards were also given to senior curator Jim Supangkat, senior artist Sunaryo and senior collector Ciputra. The Bhinneka Award recognized the work of the Jatiwangi Art Factory arts community in West Java, which focuses on researching the lives of people in the area through art.

MUSEUM MACAN

Melt (triptych, 2008) by Entang WiharsoMelt (triptych, 2008) by Entang Wiharso (Museum MACAN collection/File)

Another excitement in Indonesia’s art scene this year came when the long-awaited Museum MACAN in West Jakarta opened its doors to the public on Nov. 3. 

Prior to the vernissage, the museum organized contemporary art performances by renowned artists from Indonesia and abroad, acknowledging performance art as a contemporary art form. 

At its inaugural exhibition, titled “Art Turns. World Turns,” the museum, which is the country’s first museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art, displays 90 out of the owner’s some 900 art works, both Indonesian and international pieces, which have been amassed over a 25-year period.

The museum’s director Aaron Seeto praised Haryanto as a unique collector because his collection is of great strength, quality and artistic resource. “And when other [collectors] have been singularly focused on Indonesia, his collection has, from its inception, been both locally and internationally focused,” said Seeto.

The exhibition, which is up and running until March 18 next year, correlates either issue-wise or time-wise, denoting a conceptual vision that fits the spirit of our time.

BIENNALES

Tribute to ancestors: Balinese artist Ni Tanjung’s artwork depicting gods, ancestors and mythological animals sits on display at the Jakarta Biennale.Tribute to ancestors: Balinese artist Ni Tanjung’s artwork depicting gods, ancestors and mythological animals sits on display at the Jakarta Biennale. (JP/Carla Bianpoen)

Equally exciting was that Indonesia hosted three biennales — the Jogja Biennale, the Makassar Biennale in South Sulawesi and the Jakarta Biennale — from November to December this year. 

The Jakarta Biennale showcased its groundbreaking inventions and excelled in presenting a new understanding of contemporary art in Indonesia. For the first time, the biennale appointed a woman, Melati Suryodarmo, as its artistic director. 

The theme Jiwa (Soul) for the biennale can be understood the all-encompassing energy and creative spirit flowing from the past or the memory of it, to the present time and on toward new visions. 

Jiwa opened with a traditional ceremony performed by bissu — the androgynous shaman community from South Sulawesi, included works of Balinese outsider art, and revived works from senior artists of the past and present, such as Semsar Siagian, Hendrawan Ryanto, Siti Adiati and Marintan Sirait.

The biennale also included famous international artists and presented 27 performances (the most ever in a biennale) as well as new and existing video works by strong female filmmakers from Argentina, Indonesia, the Philippines and Mexico. 

The Jogja Biennale continued its Equator series, now in its fourth edition, this time cooperating with Brazil, with the main theme “Stage of Hopelessness,” presenting the works of 12 Brazilian artists and 25 Indonesian artists. 

The Makassar Biennale marked its second edition this year, taking “Maritime Culture” as its artistic concept, with participating artists including a Taiwanese artist, who explored similarities between certain features of Makassar, historically renowned for its strategic location during the spice trade period, and his homeland.

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