Paper Edition | Page: 28
Courtesy of Heri Pemad
With Yogyakarta’s annual art fair termed ArtJog opening for the fifth time today (July 13), Heri Pemad, the man who initiated the event, says that service remains a major part of the fair that presents works by artists without the intermediary of gallery booths.
Although small in comparison to the growing number of high-profile art fairs in the region, ArtJog, which is held in the intimate and hospitable cultural center of Yogyakarta, is unique in the world: It is an artist’s art fair.
Heri Pemad’s path to ArtJog started humble. As a student he used to deliver exhibition invites to art lovers and collectors. His friendly and helpful nature made him soon a friend both of the artists in the exhibition as well as the art lovers and collectors.
When delivering the invitations, he would take the time to sit down for a cup of coffee and listen to their problems, be it personal or technical. He became not only their close confidant, but also their man to help out with finding the material needed for the show.
It did not take long before he also advised on artworks and talented artists. He had a keen eye for promising artists, and liked to be called pemandu talenta.
After the boom in 1998 and ‘99 a very unhealthy situation prevailed in the art world, he said, and he was worried about the stiff competition which was often coupled with foul play.
This deterioration was felt by the artists and revealed itself in the art produced and the art market.
Interested in the arts and knowing the difficult situation of artists (being an artist himself), he came up with the idea to help them professionally, something more than just providing the assistance he had been doing so far without any restraint. That is how the idea of art management took shape in his creative mind.
It has not always been easy, he says, but he could count on the people who believed in him.
While focusing on new potential talent, ArtJog does not shy away from inviting artists who have already started to carve a path for themselves. Heri Dono, Entang Wiharso and Eko Nugroho have been participants in previous years, while this year the list of 157 artists also includes Ugo Untoro, Sri Astari, Titarubi, Tintin Wulia and Angki Purbandono.
ArtJog now also invites international artists — even celebrities in the art world. One is Wim Delvoye, an artist who shocked the world with his feces-producing Cloaca machine and tattooed pigs and living human beings, and has now turned to twisting the Gothic with extremely refined laser-cut images in steel, including his dream of a Gothic Mosque floating on the ocean, while keeping an entrepreneurial twist that marks his inventive mind.
Heri says he would like Delvoye to share with the artists in Yogyakarta what is most basic for an artist to succeed.
In fact, ArtJog is an evolution of a dream Heri had over a decade ago, when he was a humble deliveryman for art show invitations then moved to providing service.
He became well informed in the issues artists, gallerists and others were struggling with.
In 2004, Heri, who was born in 1976, founded PT Heri Pemad Arts Management (HPAM). He says many people actually did not believe in his efforts, or maybe they did not feel happy because they considered his activities in competition with theirs.
But his serious and honest efforts found favor with Oei Hong Djien considered the “father” of artists, Melani W. Setiawan, the artists’ “mother”, Hauw Ming of ASPI (the Indonesian Art Lovers Association), and Chris Darmawan of the Semarang Gallery, who thought that young blood would work to refresh the sticky art world of Indonesia at the time.
Although he is now more or less an entrepreneur, he remains humble and true to his vocation, to find new talent for the good of the development of art in Indonesia.
In 2007, Satriagama Rekantaseta (Seto), an economics graduate majoring in management and who had been involved in various art events, joined HPAM.
Seto became director of HPAM in 2009, a position he still holds today, together with the position of director of ArtJog.
Heri says he has always been keen on looking for “new seeds”, meaning talented and promising artists, and leads them toward the skills they require and professionalism. This remains the main goal of HPAM.
Personally, Heri is not involved in the selection of the artworks on show at ArtJog anymore as that is handled by the curator and his team. But, he does submit a list of names he considers potential for participation in the esteemed art fair.
While it is true that the sales percentage at ArtJog declined from 60 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2011, in terms of nominal figures, sales have increased, as over the years more works of high quality have been submitted, which have pushed up prices.
As we retain our local features particularly in the area of service to the artists, we are also assisting them to increase their quality at the international level, Heri says.
The exhibition will reveal how far ArtJog has come in fulfilling its founder’s target.
ArtJog 2012 “A Gaze upon Indonesian Contemporary Art”
Taman Budaya Yogyakarta
July 13, Preview
July 14, 7 p.m., Opening
July 15, art talks
Until July 28