If you want to know whether art has become part of today’s lifestyle, just step into a shopping mall and find the piece you wish to have.
That will be possible as of Feb. 27, when the Jakarta Art District officially opens at Grand Indonesia’s East Mall Lower Ground.
Organized by the Association of Indonesian Galleries (AGSI), nine members of the association are filling the large modern space.
With transparent fronts showcasing a flabbergasting multitude of contemporary art, the art district has additional “common ground” as each of the participating members will alternate in presenting an exhibition every two weeks.
According to Edwin Rahardjo, this is a joint effort by AGSI members to bring art closer to the public. It is also a means of avoiding the traffic jams in our beloved Jakarta.
Now, people can see art from nine galleries at the same time, without having to crisscross the city. It will be a starting point to get acquainted with the “mall” public, and vice versa, this will be a first impression that may encourage members of the public to selected galleries for more in-depth information.
Participating galleries include Edwin’s gallery that recently celebrated its 25th jubilee. Grown from its initial venue in a garage belonging to Edwin Rahardjo’s parents into its recently enlarged space in the Kemang area in South Jakarta, Edwin’s gallery not only has experience, but also a reputation as a pioneer.
The first to introduce Chinese Avant-Garde artists in Indonesia, Edwin’s is also known to have been the first to adequately accommodate sculpture and art by women artists.
But predating even Edwin’s gallery, Mon Décor gallery had already made an appearance. Founded by Martha Gunawan, it first looked to art as part of its interior design ethic. Two years later however, Martha created a division of fine arts, and the gallery moved to Gunung Sahari Raya to be one of the most recognized art spaces in the area.
After Andi’s Gallery was set up in 1992 and made its mark, the new millennium saw the emergence of a host of galleries.
In 2000, Nadi Gallery was founded by architect and collector Biantoro Santoso, who soon brought it to prominence focusing on contemporary art.
The following year, 2001, Gallery Canna opened its doors. Initially a shop house gallery, its activities increased by the year, to a point where it had to totally redress the space, now taking up three floors to fit large contemporary works.
Vanessa Sutanto opened Vanessa Art House in 2002, then moved away from the limitations of a gallery and established Vanessa Art Link in 2007, following up her bridging mission with an art space in Beijing.
Galleries did not just emerge in Jakarta, but outside the capital city too. In Semarang, Central Java, architect-collector Chris Dharmawan opened his art space as the Semarang Gallery in 2001, and in 2008 moved to a unique colonial quarter of Semarang, establishing a contemporary art space.
In East Java, dr. Purnomo Limanto started Puri Gallery, also in 2001, after which it moved to Surabaya in 2004.
Today, Puri is joining the Jakarta Art District in an effort to better serve the promotion of artists from East Java. The next year, 2002, saw the emergence of Langgeng Gallery in Malang, Central Java. Langgeng is known as being at the forefront of Indonesian participation in Asian art fairs.
At a time when art galleries are some kind of exclusive places frequented mostly by “certain” people, the Jakarta Art District offers free viewing for whoever cares to come.
The question is, how long will it last? So far, art in the mall has come and gone, except for CGartspace who has pioneered a consistent art space in Plaza Indonesia for 12 years.
Although the Jakarta Art District stands on a two-year lease, it is hoped it will outlast the initial period.
— Photos by Carla Bianpoen
Jakarta Art District
Grand Indonesia, Lower Ground, East Mall
Jl. Thamrin No. 1, Jakarta
Opening by dr. Oei Hong Djien,
Feb. 27, 2010