Tag Archives: Exhibition

Museum Nasional to hold the first graffity exhibition


In a similar fashion as when photography was acknowledged for the first time as a medium worthy of an art-status exhibition in Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 1967 featuring the work of Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and Garry Winogrand, graffiti in Indonesia jubilantly marked its own recognition with a joint exhibition Off the Wall by a dozen graffiti artists in Museum Nasional, November 2016.

But there is no denial about the role of commercial interest in the first ever graffitti exhibition held in a museum in Indonesia. It mainly involves Institut Français d’Indonésie (IFI), domestic commercial gallery d’Gallerie, and the international hotel management Tauzia, on the promotion of its budget hotel brand Yello Hotels opening in Hayam Wuruk, Jakarta.

It started in a meeting of IFI and Yello Hotels. Both has worked together on activities such as film screenings, and further committed to more cooperation in the future. The next idea was street art activity, of which they brought on a successful meeting with Esti Nurjadin, owner of D’Gallerie.

But there is a sense of oxymoron that underlies the intiative. Graffiti is spontaneous, anonoymous, and by nature marginalized. Some argued that it is a form of expression by the deprived social class. One wonders whether hosting such a genre would present a genuine piece of work.

During a press conference in IFI, joined also by Director of Institut Français d’Indonésie Marc Piton and President Director of Tauzia Marc Steinmeyer, Esti replied that in nature, art should be free. But even street art has been commercialized, and by literally taking it off the streets. Some instances are Louis Vuitton and Hermes who has worked on marketing activities using street art. She is convinced on the equal status of low art and high art are the same, referring to the previous phenomenon in London by Banksy.

“So on the streets, street art is still what it is. It will be cleaned off the wall, and repainted over, like mural,” she went on saying, justifying their action of providing the graffiti artists the conveniences they do not normally expect to have. Even some law enforcers in the more educated society consider the artwork vandalism. But still, putting it into perspective, the cat and mouse game is what signifies the art.

Although held shortly throughout the first week of November, the pioneers who have given the opportunity to five Indonesian artists and five French counterparts pride themselves in Off the Wall, as Mr. Piton underlined, that bringing art to the people makes culture accessible to everyone and eventually helps develop creative economy.

Mr. Steinmeyer believed that being creative is not a hobby, but a way of life. As they must have planned to expand the business by opening more hotels in Indonesia following Surabaya and Jakarta, hope arises that this artsy marketing campaign is not short-lived.

Five participating artists from Indonesia are Farhan Siki, whose mural help shaped the 798 art district in Beijing; the globe-trotting Soni Irawan, who earned fame having awarded in 2001 Phillip Morris Asean Art Award; Stereoflow; Tutugraff, and Darbotz from Jakarta, popular for his squid character he has developed since 2004. Google Chrome and Nike are among companies who has used his artworks.

The French artists are Colorz, who has marked various places in Paris since 1987; Kongo, the nickname self-taught artist Cyril Phan uses since he moved to Brazzaville, the place that has forged his identity; Mist, a Parisian who working in his studio in Montpellier, Fenx; and Tilt, who has left marks in more than forty countries. who all come from Paris, Montpellier and Toulouse. They performed live paintings in several places around the city, some provided with white medium which is to be placed in Museum Nasional, some on the walls of IFI.

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Sipfest 2016 to find a relevance in the host country

web-banner-sipfest-on-think-archipelagoSIPFest 2016 is the fifth performing arts bienalle held by Komunitas Salihara in Kompleks Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 1 October 2016 onwards until early November. To see more of their programs, please click all the SIPFest 2016 banner found in think archipelago website.

Gus Dur: Tuhan Tidak Perlu Dibela. Purjito. 2016.Gus Dur: Tuhan Tidak Perlu Dibela. Purjito. 2016.

Komunitas Salihara’s traditional bienalle festival, held consecutively ever since its opening in 2008, then called Festival Salihara, begins in October with a more significant merit to be an internationally recognized art stage showcasing its well curated exhibitions so far under the new name SIPFest 2016, said the Program Director Nirwan Dewanto.

The Salihara International Performing Arts 2016 catches up with the recent tightly scheduled art events in town, say Jakarta Bienalle early this year or the ostentatious Bazaar Art Jakarta in a lavish shopping mall last month. But one wonders about its true intention besides global recognition. Every souvenir shop at the corner of the world aspires to export their products anyway.

Having successfully invited award-winning artists among international performers to fill the month-long programs is a brag worth appreciating. Local audience gets the chance to see some premiere exhibitions in a variety of preference: theater, music, and dance.

The Human Zoo Theater Company from England, will play The Girl Who Fell In love with the Moon for the first time in Asia. Likewise, Australian Speak Percussion will perform their musical show Transducer & Fluorophone, while Canadian-based Montreal Danse presents their Asian premiere work Prisms.

From local artists, EkosDance Company will perform Balabala, noted as the world’s first by choreographer Eko Supriyanto, whose reputation can no longer be disputed following Opera Jawa, and Madonna’s Drowned World Tour in 2001.

Dance, a chance to raise local issues

But what is the relevance to the host country current situation? Is it simply art for art’s sake? Since when it is so?

Even when Manifesto Kebudayaan, or more popularly known for its derogatory remarks Manikebu, emphasizes on art independence from any political stances in 1963, it was already an outright political movement, signed by a thousand proponents to counter the government-backed Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat or Lekra.

Or when New Art Movement or Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (GSRB) threw an antithesis in another chapter of art struggle in the country’s history, the decision to unite against the prevailing group in the 70s art scene was in in itself a clear politically-laden initiatives by a particular group. “Art for the sake of art” notion sounds naive.

Obviously bringing international names to an art event is a head-turning feat. But it remains to be seen whether these participants would have brought in ideas from afar that resonate here.

Although one can hardly challenge the fact that Indonesia’s fine arts is shaped by global art scene, it is the degree of relevance to the local issues that eventually perceive a particular form of art whether it will thrive or fade into obscurity.

The political language

Soviet Russia in pre-revolutionary era was a fine example of this, at least in a practical sense.

Theater thrived exponentially as art patrons and governments were fully aware that it was the most effective form compared to, say, literature, to deliver ideas at the times when illiteracy was high, not to mention it was easier to express cynicism against the merchant class through mimicry, a major issue among the Soviet Russia’s majority deprived peasants and labors.

Santuary 2016. Made Gede Guna Valasara
Santuary 2016. Made Gede Guna Valasara
Santuary 2016. Made Gede Guna Valasara. 2016.
Santuary 2016. Made Gede Guna Valasara. 2016.

Will theater program in SIPFest 2016 echo the above example in terms of getting the right medium to reach out to the public?

Perhaps, but the organizers have another approach. Four art installations could be the answer to how Komunitas Salihara use this moment to magnify social issues around.

One that steals the spotlight is the statue of the former president of Indonesia, the late Abdurrahman Wahid, by sculptor Purjito, whose provocatie title Gus Dur: Tuhan Tidak Perlu Dibela, named after Wahid’s book containing his writing pieces about vested interest by religious groups in Indonesia that undermines peace in diversity.

A life-sized sculpture is a reminder that to live in harmony albeit differences is the priority in the heterogeneous society such as Indonesia. The flock of birds in an art installation by Made Gede Wiguna Valasara titled Sanctuary 2016 discloses an intense display, as viewers wonder where the birds are heading.

The convoluted mass migration to find a refuge is a tragedy. In a local perspective, the eviction of illegal dwelling that has been filling the headlines of late to make way for city development raises a dilemma among the unaffected public. Conscience is put to test against the pragmatic decision for the greater good.

Socio-historical approach in contemporary art

Bandung Contemporary Art Award #04
Lokale Hulptroepen (Legiun Lokal KNIL), painted with charcoal on pine wood by Maharani Mancanagara in Bandung Contemporary Art Award #04, Lawangwangi Creative Space, Bandung.

Just as the recent criticism on Indonesia’s fine art by some high profiles inside the art council itself underscores the lack of relevant social criticism, the more localised contemporary art bienalle in Bandung this year presents a more savvy view which involves a socio-cultural approach, a tendency to revisit interweaving human history with its conspicious butterfly effect we have seen today.

The fourth BaCAA situated in an art “hideout” on the upper Dago, opened since 2009 as a patron for contemporary exhibition by local artists, nonetheless is making an implosion to an updated textbook version of the local art scene, in that several young artists made a unanimous call for a contemporary exhibition that creates a distinction in the thinking of the past, in contrast of the relentless if not laborious effort to the public and the new generation artists themselves to find a tiny standpoint in the spinning universe they are trying to keep up with.

Globalisation turns out to be a push-factor that leads people into becoming lost in making perspective, not to mention the bigoted art commercialisation. The subtlety of what appears to be an inward art critisicm is implied in the dozens of A4 jumbled prints sticked to the front wall of Lawangwangi Creative Space, one of them is a derivated copy of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s drawing, American’s second to none global icon of pop artist besides Andy Warhol, whose idea is about distancing what is continuously mentioned as a modern art and the established old artworks.

What strikes most is the artist’s opinion about what constitutes a contemporary art instead of the hopeless attempt of late to make oneself considered an artist through quirky aesthetics and subjective vision of sophistication. He believes the answer is a profound understanding of the root. Hence, the search of simplicity as inquired in Marcus Aurelius first principles of each particular thing, “What is it in itself?” Perhaps this too leaves the title of his work Belum Ada Judul.

“You Promised Me Mars Colonies Instead I Got Facebook” by Nurrahmat Widyasena, who gets honorary mention in BaCAA #04, Lawangwangi Creative Space, Bandung.

A revisit to the struggle for independence against centuries of Western colonisation, for instance, constructs a piece of work through the wall-mounted frames of ethnic-based freed slave group of Mardijkers who were unable to find the ground during the making of a new nation due to the established social and cultural distance from the indigineous people.

A community shaped by the Dutch’s policy at the dawn of colony era in Dutch East Indies, the Mardijkers, or literally the greats, whose word originates from the Sanskrit, posed in the daguerrotypes which hadn’t it preserved, their proof of existence will fall into oblivion. And so too the existence of the Maluku people the nationalists abhorred during the post-independence struggle, where they formed a considerable part of the Dutch KNIL forces in retaking the former colony by force, and failed due to vanishing international support in the wake World War 2.

The exodus of hundreds of thousands of Moluccans was a historical and political burden carried by the Netherlands in the modern history that Indonesians could not care less. For the alliance to the western invaders predisposed to the national sentiment. In addition to the two cases above,the hate-mongering political behavior against the enemy of the majority that resulted in an outcast also came to light with the social antagonism to the homosexuals, in its way revealing the name Khem Parasti Berman, the voice of LGBT whose role was almost unheard of in the post-reformation era.

Muhammad Vilhamy - Belum Ada Judul (BAJ). Mixed media on paper, plastic.
Belum Ada Judul (BAJ) by Muhammad Vilhamy, one of the three winners of BaCAA #04.

Talking about art commercialisation in Indonesia, In Kurasi dan Kuasa, Agung Hujatnikajennong argued that one of its major outcome is impoverishment (pemiskinan), in the practice of entirely submitting to the medium of painting to allow the exorbitant price tags. Therefore the independence of the modern world gives rise to new media, among the most feasible is photography, but done so without compromising the beauty of its essence, that is, history disclosure.

To unclassify information means that the intellectual society demonstrates a self-taught approach to comprehend the time and space around them as opposed to rootless visual aesthetics that often deliberately hid under the complex disguise of the overhyped word conceptualism. Just take a look at Guggenheim museum as the proponent symbol of contemporary art that has chain operations abroad. It suggests that globalisation, and the “mental internet”, as suggested by Iranian intellectual Daryush Shayegan, a Western-educated professor, is a major factor in shaping the uniformity in how the west-east continents perceives the present dynamics.

The recent tendency to focus on building the dialogue of civilisation, his famous rebuttal against Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisation, is really taking place, for admittedly a good reason to nurture a peace era. But at the same time we are trapped in the energy-consuming endeavor for outward thinking, whereas we go farther backwards in perceiving who we really are. After all – without minisculing art’s nature as visual and auditory spectacles – the thought-provoking paradigm for the sake of self-assesment among the maturing society is an absolute necessity.

University of rest and relax, Liem Keng Sien in retropsective


Liem Keng Sien (1954 – 2014) called his home cum studio the university of rest and relax, a creative place that goes unsupported by government, and unrecognized by public.

Less serious in nature, perhaps it is this aphorism “Art is long, life is short” where Keng Sien took an inspiration to create his final art series, interestingly, in the shape of many laughing expressions based on earth material, a notable shift of base materials from ceramics he was so well-known of.

And it is this back-to-nature pure art that the curator Nukila Amal and Hanafi tried to reconstruct the Salihara Gallery to the closest condition with the artist’s studio. Keng Sien’s works of faces, some disfigured, laid on sands, hanged on bricks, and stood in front of giant scribbles on the wall, a mockup of evidence found in Keng Sien’s studio.

Berhasil Lagi. Stoneware. 2012.
Berhasil Lagi. Stoneware. 2012.

The Jakarta-born Liem Keng Sien studied architecture in Brussels, Belgium in 1976 – 1980, during which he came across ceramics art, and moved to art faculty in ceramics in Leuven. Returning to Indonesia, he immediately set up ceramics workshop, and made his first exhibition with Indonesia Earthenware Union in 1983. Since then, not only he exhibited craftmanship, but also

a personal quest to understand the base material he use to make his art. Keng Sien actively went on excursion to geological sites across Indonesia to study the nature of earth materials. His first solo exhibition was entitled Bibit Untuk di Tengah (1997). He last made a clay joint-exhibition in 2012.

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Ahmad Sadali in retrospective

Galeri Nasional

The  late Ahmad Sadali (1924-1987) was touted as the father of Indonesia’s abstract art. But the artist himself made a unique statement when he shunned people’s reference to him as an abstractionist, although he confided to his son that culturally there is no other way to describe his works besides an abstract.

In light of this puzzling dichotomy, Galeri Nasional from 25 June until 14 July once again showcased the local maestro’s works to bring back to life the arguments about the way this archipelago country perceives the language of visual expression.

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Huang Fong’s half century works in retrospective

huang fong

77 paintings of Huang Fong, a 77 year old proclaimed Indonesian master painter (pictured above) from Genteng, Banyuwangi,  is on exhibition in National Gallery, Jakarta, this month.

It is a retrospective of his 50 years dedication as a realist painter. Fong, a non-chalant artist who spent most of his life in Indonesia’snumber one tourism spot, Bali, delivered a speech that had helped the audience to forget it easily, a simple thank you wrapped in a sentence.

Him as a social being is a reflection of his abundant paintings, completed but kept undisclosed in the dusty corners of his room. The septuagenarian shows impeccable health as he is already renowned as a trainer for the morning exercise chores in his community.