Art: Beyond Galleries, Into Hotels


Extending art beyond gallery walls gives its placement and its surroundings an additional narrative touch. Hotels have increasingly integrated art into their hospitality to aggrandise their customer’s experience, instilling an unparalleled sense of fulfillment.

In this era of vast transformation, hotels are becoming a destination not only for holiday accommodation but also as a safe haven where a personalised experience is delivered through luxurious art collections. Hotels and holiday resorts are increasingly integrating art into their product, providing a sense of individualism and personalisation. Artworks that a hotel acquires for their desired space allows room for the company’s self actualisation. It creates the first impression for its guests and sets the tone for the hospitality establishment.

Of course, online applications such as Airbnb have created a whole new concept of vacation accommodation rentals, personalising the whole experience as people host their homes to a wide array of customers. This 21st-century concept of accommodation experiences are now being adapted by the bigger hospitality corporations by acclimating a sense of individualism and instilling emotional resonance within their guests through their customised art collection

The recently opened Anantara Riverside Bangkok has created an urban sanctuary on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Anantara acquired a “Gamelatron” which is a sonic kinetic sculpture created by the American artist Aaron Taylor Kuffner. Drawing on a thousand-year-old Indonesian tradition it simulates the experience of a finely tuned gamelan orchestra. The traditional bronze gongs are played by mechanical mallets crafted by the artist to produce a variety of musical compositions that draw in the listener to the meditative sounds of the gamelan.

Originating from the Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese islands where the predominant Hindu and Buddhist cultures came about, the word gamelan originated from the ancient Sanskrit script, personifying its traditional and culturally rich instrumental reverberations. The Gamelatron is an integration between the eastern and western culture. The mood created depends on the origin of the gongs whether from Bali or Java and it is a blend of traditional craftmanship fused with modern mechanics to create harmony between the ancient and the modern. The resort welcomes guests with ethereal compositions of the traditional Indonesian gamelan instrument.

Earlier in the year ISA Art & Design brought “Bunganya Dewa”, one of the largest installations by the artist to the inaugural art fair of Art Moments Jakarta at the Sheraton Grand, Gandaria City. Creating an urban sanctuary with the Gamelatron in an enclosed space with meditation pillows contrasted with the hustle and bustle of the fair. It was a welcome reprieve for fatigued collectors to meditate and reflect. Bunganya Dewa was previously exhibited at the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in June 2018.

The Sheraton Grand Hotel’s collection is one of the most prominent public art collections. An installation by the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel hangs elegantly above the center of the lobby. His works are known to “romanticise and re-enchant the world” through his otherworldly glass-blown sculptures. Many guests are surprised to see the famous sculpture, “LOVE” by Robert Indiana welcoming them through the ballroom entrance of the hotel.

A monumental painting by Handiwirman Saputra stretches across the backdrop of the reception desk and sets the mood with a calming, neutral pink but subtle painting. One of the most prominent artists of Indonesian contemporary art, Handiwirman was appointed as one of the artists to represent Indonesia through the Indonesian Pavilion in the latest Venice Biennale this year, “May You Live in Interesting Times”. His paintings extend to the elevator’s lobby with his infamous “Tak Berakar dan Tak Berpucuk” series paintings.

Saputra himself works between installation and painting. His use of found objects is often suggestive of events, landscapes and images but in themselves resist any connotations of symbolism and metaphor. In the corridor is a piece by the Indonesian artist Christian Ay Tjoe. Ay Tjoe is one of the most prominent Indonesian artists who has been active for many years and is represented by the international gallery White Cube. She was an honoree of the 2019 Asia Arts Game Changer Awards earlier this year in Hong Kong. The Asia Arts Game Changer awards recognises contributions by Asian artists to the contemporary art scene.

It is undeniable that integrating art and hospitality can strongly enhance the whole concept and experience of a hotel’s establishment, like many businesses and big corporations that integrate art into their office spaces to gain employee satisfaction. At the end of the day, humans tend to hold memories and experiences that hold meaningful narratives in their lives and it is proven that art has the power to do that.

NOTE: The second edition, Art Moments 2020 will be held on 17-19 April, with Khai Hori as the appointed senior curator and art director. This edition of the fair will highlight spirituality in art, and a further discussion of Islamic art, which was talked about during Art Moments 2019.

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Deborah Iskandar
Deborah Iskandar is the principal of ISA Art Advisory (, which advises clients on buying and selling art and building collections, and the founder of Indonesian Luxury (, the definitive online resource for Indonesians looking to acquire, build and style their luxury homes.