In many ways, Bandung - the so-called "Paris van Java" - is a city full of surprises. A visit can turn up delights ranging from the simplicity of to-die-for locally made chips to sophisticated fashion at factory outlets. Adding to the riches is Lawangwangi, a new modern art gallery set in the middle of the naturally beautiful Dago Atas area that will open to the public on Jan. 22. The owner, Dr. Andonowati - her field of expertise is mathematics - took a moment to talk about the new gallery, its concept and its art.
Question: So what is the story behind Lawangwangi Art and Science Estate?
Answer: Let me start with my first early encounter with Indonesian visual arts back in the early 1980s. At the time, I was a student at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). I often came across beautiful paintings by Ahmad Sadali while visiting the family house in upper Dago, Bandung. Somehow this experience blossomed into an obsession with art. Luckily I was introduced to art market practices in 1992 through regular attendances of art auctions when I lived in Montreal, Canada. I started to understand the dynamics of the art market. Art dealing with auction houses, however, ended in 1997 when I decided to move to Europe and become a full-time scientist.
Yet my passion for art did not die. I returned to Indonesia in 1999 and started collecting Indonesian works of art, beginning with Bandung artist Dikdik Sayahdikumullah, and then all the members of the AbstraX group and other young Bandung artists. Apart from collecting, I have been looking to re-enter the art market through different venues. This idea led to the establishment of Lawangwangi.
This construction was preceded by my experience working as a field consultant in a research park; that is, a community or industrial estate based on the latest science and technology that facilitates the link between research and industries. To mimic the concept of the research park for art, ARTSociates was founded in late 2006. This conceptual structure was later combined with the establishment of Lawangwangi: Art & Science Estate.
For art, Lawangwangi consists of an ART Bank, an ART space, a lounge and offices. The ART Bank is designed as a large, fully functional, coded, computerized stock room where artists and collectors can store selected artworks. The ART space on the main floor is an exhibition space. The lounge is a place where artists, art critics, collectors, art managers and representatives from art industries can meet and hold discussions.
I understand that you worked with famous architect Baskoro Tedjo to build this gallery. Is there any particular reason you chose him for this project? How long did it take from the initial plan until it was finalized?
Baskoro Tedjo built our house in Bandung (based on a design competition he won). The house was later judged the best design by ASRI's annual publication, Skala+, in 2005. We were very happy with the design. In 2007, we sold the house and the art collection and we started to plan Lawangwangi. The plan and design of Lawangwangi started in early 2008. We started building in August 2008 and it is still not completely finished.
Could you share with us a little about the collection here? How many commissioned painters have you been working with?
Here, I'll just note: I prefer to be called a teacher rather than a collector... Most of the collecting I did in the past was aimed at educating artists to become better. To become better has costs. I buy art when I think the artist has the potential to become better... In our collection are works by Ahmad Sadali, AD Pirous, Tisna Sanjaya, Mella Jaarsma, Teguh Ostenrik, Diyanto, Dikdik Sayahdikumullah, Irman A Rahman, Ay Tjoe Christine... and many works by young artists.
What kind of market are you targeting with this gallery, given its unusual location?
Good collectors looking for quality art and investors willing to work together in grooming very talented artists. Well, I think Lawangwangi is located in a very beautiful place... It's only 5 minutes from the main street of Bandung, Jl. Dago, in the tranquility of the hills, full of inspiration for both artists and collectors... also scientists... Lawangwangi is a reality that feels like magic... (laughs)
Jan. 22 will be the opening day for Lawangwangi and you chose "Halimun" (The Mist) as the theme for the opening exhibition. What is the aim or the message that you are trying to convey through this exhibition?
This exhibition is a reflection on the development of Indonesian contemporary art. "The Mist" was chosen as the theme as it has become a metaphor for explaining the symptoms of the current Indonesian visual art socio-capital field. The condition of creating a layer of obscuring signals, misleading and disturbing our observations of the quality of the art, to its totality of meanings, artistic exploration and philosophical discourses is like a mist covering the land - or, in the Sundanese language, halimun - wrapping, covering and obscuring the view, yet we can still see something at a limited distance depending on the thickness of the layers of mist. The "Halimun" exhibition will be held to review the development of visual arts within the whirl of value layers, from the works of 50 Indonesian visual artists.
Tell us a little bit about your vision for Lawangwangi in the future. How will this gallery help with the growth of our art development?
Well, Lawangwangi is only a part of the whole structure of the Art Park that I am aiming to achieve... and the gallery is part of Lawangwangi. Part of Lawangwangi, the first studio cluster is being built across the street ... then there will be more... Also, Lawangwangi is only the manifestation. More important is the conceptual structure of ArtSociates (capacity, activities, networks... the brand) that we have been building since late 2006 for art and LabMath-Indonesia in 2005 for modeling and simulation (www.labmath-indonesia.org).
Given all of these artistic passions of yours, are you still an active scientist?
Indeed, I am a mathematician working in the field of water waves (with applications such as ship testing, harbor construction and wave monitoring). I am also now interested in working in the area of water resource management (water footprints, water management in peat land).
LAWANGWANGI ART AND SCIENCE ESTATE
Jl. Dago Giri no. 99
Warung Caringin, Mekarwangi