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First in SE Asia: Art Jakarta fair goes completely virtual

Carla Bianpoen

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, October 27, 2020  /  03:13 pm
First in SE Asia: Art Jakarta fair goes completely virtual

'In a Landscape' (charcoal on paper) by Timoteus Anggawan Kusno (Courtesy of Timoteus Anggawan Kusno/The Columns/Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020)

Entering the 12th edition of Art Jakarta, or Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020, is like stepping into an alien world – at least for some of the people used to its physical format.

In its new, online form, the art fair may initially be confusing to visitors, but once you have entered the virtual space, it offers an exciting experience that can be navigated from the comfort of the living room, or even from your bedroom for that matter.

“This fair format has been conceived to help energize the slumping creativity in the art world in Indonesia that tends to be falling into oblivion. Galleries have closed their doors, and artists face challenges in continuing their creative activities, let alone selling artworks,” explained the fair’s director, Tom Tandio.

The fair, which runs from Oct. 19 to Dec. 15, occupies a simulated area of 3,364 square meters.

“It is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, if not Asia,” Tom said.

Contemporary: Mella Jaarsma’s work, 'Pasang II' (charcoal, acrylic on canvas), is brought to the fair by Semarang Gallery.Contemporary: Mella Jaarsma’s work, 'Pasang II' (charcoal, acrylic on canvas), is brought to the fair by Semarang Gallery. (Courtesy of Mella Jaarsma/Semarang Gallery/Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020)

The fair is supported by the Education and Culture Ministry’s Directorate General of Culture, Oppo Indonesia as principal partner, MRAMedia and Ninja Express.

Culture Director General Hilmar Farid said the ministry was grateful for the innovation, which was crucial to ensure the survival of cultural activities during a pandemic. “We see Art Jakarta as such innovation,” he said.

For the last 12 years, the fair has been an integral part of both Indonesia’s and Southeast Asia’s art ecosystem.

“This is what pushed us to be optimistic and search for a way to continue to maintain these relationships within the art ecosystem in Indonesia and Southeast Asia,” said the fair’s artistic director, Enin Supriyanto.

'Legend of Rama Shinta' by Sasya Tranggono'Legend of Rama Shinta' by Sasya Tranggono (Courtesy of Sasya Tranggono/Puri Art Gallery/Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020)

Hence the condition for all participating exhibitors – 27 Indonesian and 11 international galleries – is that they may only present Indonesian artists.

OPPO Indonesia chief creative officer Patrick Owen cited his company’s collaboration as enabling to raise the spirit of the art world in Indonesia.

Major enabling elements of the fair include the surprisingly low rent of booths. A 25-sq-m booth costs only Rp 12 million (US$819) while an 80-sq-m booth costs Rp 20 million for the entire period of the fair.

Free booths have also been accorded to a few art communities and biennales.

The WhatsApp messenger app is installed in the virtual booths, affording visitors immediate communication with exhibitors. This feature proved to be a hit among visitors.

Dong Jo of The Column Gallery in Seoul/Singapore revealed that he had received requests soon after the fair’s opening, while Jasdeep Sandhu of Singapore’s Gajah Gallery also beamed with 12 requests and two works sold.

Chris Darmawan of Semarang Gallery was also enthusiastic about the direct communication facility.

Yet, there are also those who complained about problems navigating the virtual space. One gallerist said he got in, but then could not find his booth.

As for the content proper, prominent Indonesian collector Wiyu Wahono finds that there are only a few surprises in the artwork. “The usual salable,” he said, with a few exceptions.

Virtual space: 'No Molly No Cry 05' (asphalt on canvas) by Tisna Sanjaya is one of the works by prominent artists being featured at the Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020 exhibition, which runs until Dec. 15.Virtual space: 'No Molly No Cry 05' (asphalt on canvas) by Tisna Sanjaya is one of the works by prominent artists being featured at the Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020 exhibition, which runs until Dec. 15. (Courtesy of Tisna Sanjaya/Lawangwangi/Oppo Art Jakarta Virtual 2020)

Indeed, Art Sociates Lawangwangi, for instance, has works by the incredible veteran artist Tisna Sanjaya whose paintings were made with ash on canvas, while the Los Angeles-based Baik+Khneysser gallery presented works of less exposed but seriously talented senior artist Ninditiyo Adipurnomo.

Semarang Gallery sold, among other pieces, excellent contemporary works by Mella Jaarsma; Puri Art Gallery brings works by Sasya Tranggono, featuring decorative butterflies, stylized wayang puppets and quite enjoyable flower paintings.

There is also a collaborative endeavor between Omnispace and the newly opened Colaborea, focusing on emerging artists with their pre-order (PO) projects. In arts, the term pre-order refers to commissioned work.

The booth of Oppo Fine Art has 10 of the most popular young artists, whose original works on A3 paper in various mediums will be auctioned together with an Oppo cell phone, while a limited edition of 100 printed copies of each work will be offered at Rp 1 million per copy.

These efforts, according to the fair’s VIP relations director, Hafidh Ahmad Irfanda, aim to stimulate prospective young collectors.

More programs are in the offing, but for now, just grab your cell phone or laptop and enter the virtual world with gusto. (ste)

-- The fair can be experienced at www.artjakarta.com

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