What's coming up in art in 2017


Most people start their year with a series of New Year’s resolutions on how to change their lives. Can our resolutions include the way we look at art or how it can bring joy to our life? Many collectors and artists would say yes. Reflecting on 2016, what can we learn–and how can we move forward with our collecting interests?

Over the last year, we saw a dramatic increase in art activities in Indonesia. The popularity of art fairs, exhibitions and museum shows, along with the help of social media, have made the public more attuned to the world of art. But the most defining exhibitions in Jakarta were “1771: The Brushstrokes of The Struggle for Independence” and “Jati Diri”, evincing for the first time the government’s renewed interest and hopefully continued commitment to advance art.

We also saw the promotion of Indonesian art abroad as part of globalization. Many artists participated in overseas exhibitions. In our opinion, the climax was Christine Ay Tjoe’s solo show at White Cube and Tom Tandio’s exhibition of his collection at the Song Eun art space in Korea.

Tjoe’s exhibition was ground breaking, as White Cube is arguably one of the most prestigious galleries in the world. White Cube’s artists are predominately western centreed, originating from America and Europe, including talents such as Damien Hirst, Anselm Keifer and Antony Gormley, who are the biggest names in British art. Tjoe’s show was the first by an Indonesian artist and broke the ceiling on gender. For those not familiar with her work, Tjoe uses abstraction to convey her ideas on human nature, with each stroke of the brush and spontaneous line drawing illustrating her unstated meaning.

The last year was also big for collectors. Tom Tandio was listed as one of the 40
collectors under 40 by Apollo magazine. Through indoartnow.com, his website devoted to Indonesian art, and his role at Art Stage, Tom has worked tirelessly to promote Indonesian art. His exhibition at the Song Eng Art Space was “Millennial’s Collection”, featuring video, photography, installation and embroidery by well-known artists such as Eko Nugroho, Aditya Novali, Albert Yonathan, Tromarama and Jompet. A collector’s exhibition can serve as a teaching tool for all types of collectors to show what is popular taste from a commercial as well as a curatorial point of view. A museum show re-affirms that a collector’s taste is in line with the market.

What can we expect in 2017? The bar is high, with the launch of MACAN, or the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara–a first for Indonesia. Inspired and funded by Haryanto Adikoesoemo, a businessman and art collector; MACAN has over 800 paintings, comprised of both Western and Asian art. For the first time, Indonesians will be able to see some of the hottest names in Western art, such as Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami. The collection also boasts the best of Indonesian modern and contemporary art, including paintings by Walter Spies, and Adrian Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres.

MACAN recently appointed Aaron Seeto as its director and curators Charles Esche, formerly director of Eindhoven’s Van Abbemuseum, and Agung Hujatnika; which shows the museum’s commitment to international standard curatorial programs. On board is also MET Studio Design Limited, who specialise in museums and exhibition, and who promise to bring a “cutting edge creative approach”.

With this line up Jakarta will finally have its first world-class art museum, so the public–as well as the art community–can learn and explore more about art.

We also can look forward to a second collectors show by Dr. Wiyu Wahono at the Liechtenstein Museum, entitled “Beyond Boundaries–Globalization and Identity”. Wiyu is a German-educated businessman who spent many years in Berlin, where he was exposed to the best of contemporary art, from Documenta to the Venice Biennale. Wiyu, as the title of the exhibition suggests, intends to push the boundaries of contemporary art by acquiring video, sound and performing artists. While this form of art is perhaps a far stretch for most collectors, it also includes many artists featured in Tom Tandio’s collection. One can see how collectors from millennials to seniors may start in one direction and diverge toward a totally different path because of education, practice and experience, yet come to the same conclusions for their final selections.

Who are the artists to watch for 2017? The trajectory will continue for Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, Aditya Novali, Sinta Tantra and others. Sinta is now in Rome as the first recipient of the Bridget Riley Fellowship offered by the British School in Rome. This is a prestigious prize. For an Indonesian artist to be its first recipient is an honour. Sinta also had a solo show at Pearl Lam Gallery, so she is on the radar. Aditya Novali also secured a residency in Tokyo titled “Tokyo Wonder Site”, where he produced a installation work of objects and performance entitled “Tea-One Ceremony”.

The artwork reflects a fusion of three Asian cultures–China, Indonesia and Japan–and how we define our identity, nationality and humanity in a global context.

It looks like 2017 will be an exciting year for the arts. Keep reading and we will keep you up to date.

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

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