Category Archives: Archiving Indonesian Art

Opening Doors On Indonesian Art History Discourse – YOS 2016

20161022_163626Leading Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso shares with the audience about his creative journey at Black Goat Studio during the YOS 2016 Focus Tours.

 

As a platform for dialogue and collaboration the annual Yogyakarta Open Studio (YOS) program supports the development of new knowledge and documentation on contemporary art studio practice. It provides the public and arts community with exposure to an array of artists working in a variety of fields at various stages in their career.

Artist studios’ are essential sites of engagement revealing details of the creative practice that cannot be seen elsewhere. They give insight into an artist’s environment and state of mind, highlights with whom they interact and their strategic approaches to developing their careers. Beginning in 2013, each year Yogyakarta based artists are invited to open their studios while examining a specific theme. YOS 2016’s theme is “Artists Engagement With Art History”.

20161021_120624Lugis Studio, the creative hub and printing making facility of artists Muhlis Lugi open to the public during YOS 2016.

 

As the study of the development of the visual arts, art history involves understanding the social, political, and intellectual context of art in relation to its cultural origins. Art historians attempt to answer in historically specific ways questions that relate to style, meaning, visual and discursive function, and artistic practices.

“Indonesian art is fully part of the global art scene, so its historical analysis – its development and writing – are more pressing than ever before,” said YOS Director Christine Cocca.

“We selected art history as this year’s theme because of the pivotal, but perhaps neglected position it has in Indonesian art discourse.”

“YOS 2016 wishes to jump-start the conversation about qualification and look at how aspiring Indonesia art historians go about gaining the education they need in a country that still doesn’t offer a degree in art history,” she adds.

20161022_133106Australian artist Sally Smart describes some of her creative processes with the audience at Studio Sally Smart during the YOS 2016 Focus Tours.

 

Running 19 -23 October YOS 2016 collaborates with a group of local and international art historians whose work engages with Indonesian contemporary art. An essential element aligning artist, practice, thought and audience, a series of expert led Focus Tours giving visitors the opportunity for in-depth discussions about the artists’ work and studio practice is offered 22 & 23 October from 1-5 pm.

Participating art historians are Agus Burhan and Suwarno Wisetrotomo from Yogyakarta, Leonor Veiga, Portugal, Mary-Louise Totton, USA, Amanda Katherine Rath, Germany, Wulan Dirgantoro and Astrid Honold both based in Germany and Indonesia. Together they have developed a series of interviews with participating studios exploring artists’ engagement with the production, function and impact of the discipline on their practice. Seventeen artist’s studios situated around Yogyakarta will be open during YOS 2016.

“Indonesia has an extensive art historical record, but little art historical discourse is being done,” said Leonor Veiga, a PhD candidate at Leiden University whose dissertation The Third Avant-Garde: Recalling Tradition in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art analyses how contemporary art practices negotiate traditional arts in the region.

“Curators work reaches more artists than work of art historians which is problematic, leading to artists being cultural orphans with little understanding where their work may fit in art historical terms,” Veiga adds. “Grassroots initiatives like YOS 2016 create space for debate, and contribute to open discussions about essential issues.”

20161021_210858Suwarno Wisetromo, Entang Wiharso, Heri Dono, Fendry Ekel and Mikke Sustanto engaged in discussions on issues concerning Indonesian Art history at RJ Katamsi Galeri, ISI Yogakarta as a part of the YOS 2016 program.

 

“Through YOS artist’s studios became more alive and accessible; far from the image of mysterious,” said Suwarno Wisetromo, a professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) Yogyakara, and curator at the National Gallery of Indonesia, who pursed his PhD in History with a focus on art to try and achieve comparable qualifications.

“Participating studios have to work together with historians, conduct research and create relevant works. The artists are challenged to become the initiator. Providing an alternative ‘space’ and ‘approach’ to existing events such as the Jogja Bienale, Art Jog, and gallery exhibitions that are outside of curatorial and commercial platforms makes YOS significant, ”Suwarno adds.

Reflecting on sustainability Astrid Honold, who divides her time between Berlin and Yogyakarta said, “As a young country, Indonesia, very understandably has other priorities. Art, in a way, as important and existential as it might be, is a luxurious occupation. Other things come first. But then you get the market which thinks you can just jump over centuries of development of thought. Well you cannot.”

20161020_161205Open to the public during YOS 2016, Studio Jumaldi Alfi, featuring the work of well-known Indonesian international artist Jumaldi Alfi.

 

“I am excited to be participating in YOS 2016,” said Heri Dono, the founder of the Kalahan Studio and one of Indonesia’s most prominent international names. “YOS is important to the development of contemporary art in Yogyakarta.”

“Our priority is to examine issues in the art world through the artist’s eyes and experiences. Importantly, YOS lets the artists set the terms,” Cocca adds. Complete with online information, maps, and a program of expert guided studio tours YOS not only supports the development of art and cultural tourism in Yogyakarta, yet the Indonesian creative economies sector as well.

Participating artists include Endang Lestari, Sujud Dartanto, Entang Wiharso, Theresia Agustina Sitompul, Nia Fliam, Agus Ismoyo, Fendry Ekel, Deni Rahman, Lenny Ratnasari Weichert, Ivan Sagita, Komroden Haro, Lugas Syllabus, Noor Ibrahim, Eddi Prabandono, Sally Smart, Heri Dono, Jumaldi Alfi, Muhlis Lugis and Desrat Fianda.

yos-discussion-at-studio-kalahan-heri-dono-image-courtesy-yos-2016YOS Director Christine Cocca and Heri Dono giving an art presentation, a pre YOS 2016 event at Dono’s Kalahan Studios. Image courtesy YOS.

http://www.yogyakartaopenstudio.com

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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National Gallery Singapore Presenting and Archiving Indonesian Art

Farah Wardani. Image courtesy of NGSAssistant Director of the National Gallery Singapore Resource Center Indonesian Art Historian Farah Wardani. Image Courtesy NGS

A meeting point for major civilizations, religions and colonial powers, Southeast Asian art has experienced a turbulent social and political history defined by a complex relationship between local traditions and influences from the West. Open from November 2015, the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) oversees the world’s largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art.

Boasting over 8,000 works including paintings, sculptures, printmaking, photography and video from the 19th and 20th centuries, housed in two immaculately restored and transformed national monuments – the former Singapore Supreme Court and City Hall – the NGS works together with international museums to jointly present Southeast Asian art in the global context.

bosch-brand-forest-fire-raden-saleh-1849-ngs-uob-souteast-asia-gallery-image-richard-horstman               “Bosch Brand” (Forest Fire) 1849  – Radan Saleh, National Gallery Singapore

Two exhibitions currently running at the NGS highlight Indonesian art. “Between Declaration & Dreams: Art of South East Asia Since the 19th Century” features nearly 400 artworks (over 90 by Indonesians) in the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery. The exhibition brings together the defining art movements and styles in the development of Indonesian modern art. From the “grandfather of modernism” Raden Saleh (1811-1880), featuring his 1839 composition “Wounded Lion”, to the “pretty pictures” Mooi Indies landscape genre that prevailed until early in the 20th Century.

Sudjojono (1913-1986) and friends next challenged the paradigm with a new nationalist style while banding together in the collective, PERSAGI (Persatuan Ahli Ahli Gambar Indonesia, 1938). The exhibition continues with the likes of Affandi, Hendra Gunawan, Walter Spies, and A.A Gede Meregeg to the 1970’s avant garde with the iconic work from the Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru movement, “Ken Dedes” by Jim Supangkat (1975 remade in 1996), and the 1993 video documentation by Krisna Murti,”12 Hours in the Life of Agung Rai the Dancer.”

ken-dedes-jim-supangkat-1975-remade-1996-image-richard-horstman                         “Ken Dedes” 1975 – Jim Supangkat, National Gallery Singapore

In the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery “Reframing Modernism”, open from 31 March- 17 July, was the NGS’s first international collaboration, with the Center Pompidou of Paris. The history of modernism is a story of influence: that artistic movements developed in Europe and America and then spread to the rest of the world. The landmark exhibition focuses on the practices of individual artists in the West and Southeast Asia and how they can be connected to one another.

Drawing on over 200 iconic works exhibiting side-by-side are Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso and Chagall, to name a few, along with Indonesian masters including Lempad, Sobrat, Sudjojono, Affandi and Hendra Gunawan. Labeled as ambitious exposition by some foreign critics, this is a unique opportunity to engage with some of the master works of modern art, complimented by the presence of Indonesians, and is an essential insight into modern art development. Emphasis was given to the architect-cum-artist icon Lempad (1862-1975), whose line sketches revolutionized Balinese art, and the mysterious, pioneering female modernist Emiria Sunassa (b.1894 Nth Sulawesi – 1964). Dubbed an artist, nurse, princess, elephant hunter, plantation administrator, businesswoman and social activist, Sunassa began painting at the age of 40.

sculpture-by-edie-sunarso-painting-sudjojono-purusing-a-poster-1956-image-richard-horstman  Sculpture “The Head  of Monument for the Independence of West Irian”  – Edi Sunarso, National Gallery Singapore

While both exhibitions, presenting some of the finest local art with curatorial attention bringing it into greater context, in a world-class institution are a boon for Indonesia, it is the less publicized, archival projects occurring deep within the sanctum of NGS that will garner increasing international interest to Indonesian art, along with added value.

“People tend to see archives as merely a library, knowing its important, yet often taking them for granted,” said Farah Wardani (b.1975 Jakarta), who after 10 years as Director of IVAA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive center) in Yogyakarta was recruited to NGS as Assistant Director of the Resource Center to oversee building the archival inventory. “I am excited to be a part of this enormous NGS project, the first highly focused, professional effort to archive SE Asian and Indonesian art history with international standards. It’s a starting point,” she adds.

dscf5310      “Title Unkown” (Abstract in Orange) 1968 – Ahmad Sadali, National Gallery Singapore

“Setting up the fundamentals of Indonesian art history involves the digitization of information, so we partner up, mostly with artist’s families, then sort through photo albums, diaries, catalogues and interviews, often finding the unimaginable,” Wardani revealed, having recently worked with the Sudjojono Center archiving almost 4000 items by the artist.

“Archiving requires great time and energy, yet the resources can be used in many different ways. Archives are artifacts that bring value by activating life into the artwork adding to the sustainability of the eco-system.”

“Archiving and database resources enable Indonesian art history to come out in the open,” Wardani said, commenting on what the project means for Indonesian art. “How many people actually study the masters of Indonesian art? It is still a niche art, a very unique subject, with a short and intense history. This is a wonderful opportunity for the international community to learn about more Indonesian art.”

dscf5163 “Mereka Yang Terusir Dari Tanahnya” (Those Chased Away From Their Land) 1960 – Amrus Natalsya, National Gallery Singapore

With the increasing engagement of Indonesia art and archival information and hence the relative growth in international appreciation, foreign institutions, curators, collectors and the curious will target the nation’s home grown art, ultimately benefiting the Indonesian art eco system in many ways, including financially.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

dscf5153                      “Perusing A Poster” 1956 – Sudjojono, National Gallery Singapore

dscf5256                          “Pasar” 1943 – Emiria Sunassa, National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore

1 St Andrew’s Rd, Singapore

Tel:+65 6271 7000

Open Daily: 10AM–7PM

www.nationalgallery.sg