Last Saturday, Oct. 29, saw the opening of ART-1, a new arts entity comprising a museum, an art space and an institute.
Founded by Martha Gunawan, the first to break ground for a fine arts gallery (Mon Decor) some three decades ago, this private undertaking amid failing government initiatives for contemporary visions brings a fresh wind of expectation and new hope to the art community in Indonesia and beyond.
The interactive nature of museum, art space and institute is interesting. This is especially so with art space where new and future visions can be nurtured by an institute where research and interaction with the community and the world will be adding to radical changes benefiting innovation in contemporary art creation in Indonesia.
We will have to wait and see whether this arts entity will be able to provoke the art establishment and evoke new creative forces fulfilling the spirit of the time.
For now, Art-1’s opening exhibition with Jim Supangkat as curator and titled “Flight for Light: Indonesian art and religiosity” presents more than a hundred works, divided over the new museum space with old masters, and the art space with works of a contemporary nature. Works by Affandi, Soedjojono, Sudjono Abdullah, Ahmad Sadali, AD Pirous, G. Sidharta Soegjo, Wakidi and Widayat belong to the museum or were borrowed from collectors. Interestingly, in this section of old masters, are also works by Ivan Sagita, Heri Dono, Lucia Hartini, Made Wiante, Nyoman Nuarte, Rita Widagdo, Sunaryo and Anusapati leading some people to wonder about the criteria.
For the art space, intended as a venue for new exploration, there are many works that take the title literally, linking religiosity to a certain religion. Inge Rijanto, for instance, has a realistic crucifix made of wood with family pictures and books in the hollow of the back. Jay Subiyakto has a painting featuring Jesus, while Pramuhendra’s installation is evocative of a confessional.
But in between paintings and other works of the usual type, some of the artists take religiosity in another of its multiple dimensions, resulting in exceptional works eluding the notion of conceptual exploration, and linked to issues currently engaging our globalized world.
Sri Astari (Rasjid)’s sculptures titled Armors for the Soul, for instance, highlights the gender issue, a major theme in contemporary art concerned with the rereading of tradition or traditional values.
Illuminating the traditional woman’s garb of the kebaya in light of the contemporary, her installation transforms the idea of kebaya as a medium of the body’s beautification with its attributes of long torso and stagen as tools to hide the unfavorable body parts, into a medium showing the maturity of a woman who wishes to shield herself against worldly temptations.
The grey colored aluminum with stainless steel cloth sculptures, each embellished with a symbolic flower, and a slendang reaching to the floor on which miniature cars, skulls and other items seem to be creeping, emanates a stirring spiritual mood.
The issue of money and material orientation that holds many art dealers, collectors and artists in its grip, is tackled by Aditya Novali, an artist known for his skillful artistry and depth of thought.
Featuring 12 crucifixions displayed on the edge of what may be an artificial well The New God warns that eventually all will fall into the black hole. The12 crosses representing celebrities like Cai GuoQiang, Damien Hirst, Frida Kahlo, Jenny Holzer, Salvador Dali and more, are for Aditya the 12 apostles of contemporary art whose high esteem could well fall into a black hole if prices are pushed up too much.
Greed and money is also the theme in Hardiman Rajb’s God Must Be Crazy, an installation of his iconic suitcase full of dollar notes amid rampant corruption cases.
The phenomenon of changing patterns in appreciation also emerges in this show. What used to be considered female and hardly looked upon, has now been taken on by some male artists.
Embroidery, for instance, appears as a medium to shape two skulls on canvas in Erik Pauhrizi’s Zwei Toten Koepfe (two dead heads) and Radi Arwinda’s Birrul Walidain. Flowers, once disdainfully looked upon as “female”, are now taken up by ceramist Albert Yonathan. Blurring the boundaries of fine art and craft, Simponi’s works combine silkscreen with hand stitching.
The DVD work by Herra Pahlasari using 1000 pieces of boats folded in the manner of origami, and made by schoolchildren is a fascinating story of simple mediums with great meaning.
Meanwhile Prilla Tania and Sonia Prabowo’s photographs, and Erika Ernawan’s work featuring a nude in digital print on lenticular lens speaks of new innovations in the media.
As the huge scaffolding installation by Sunaryo suggests, a lot remains to be done. The opening of the Art-1 facility is a good beginning.