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Published by Sugar & Cream, Thursday 30 November 2023

Text, images and photography by Lynda Ibrahim

A three day event was visited by 35.578 guests – a surge of more than 2,000 from the previous edition in 2022

Art Jakarta, Indonesia’s renowned 3-day art fair that during his long run, including name-changing, had always been held at a downtown venue, is taking up a new location this year—the Jakarta International Expo in Kemayoran. Legally Kemayoran belongs to Central Jakarta municipality, yet geographically it’s much northeast to the Central-South downtown swath where Jakarta art scene typically takes place. The big question mark immediately on many people’s mind is, will the crowd move along as well?

Judging from the invite-only Friday opening and the Saturday opened for public, the crowd did turn up at the building known mostly for hosting industrial and B2B exhibitions. Art afficionados quietly perusing the artworks, established collectors greeted warmly by art insiders, nouveau riche trying to buy every work on the rise, and socialites busy notifying their presence onto social media. Based on the official report, this year art fair was visited by 35.578 guests – a surge of more than 2,000 from the previous edition in 2022!

The 10,000 m2 space enables spacious alleys between the participating 68 galleries, making it more convenient for visitors to walk around, enjoy arts on partition walls and find exhibition signs. Art Jakarta Artistic Director Enin Supriyanto stated that, despite a few hiccups like electricity, generally the Fair management was happy with the new premise and would return next year around the same time—a time the management viewed as more strategic on the regional art event calendar.

Several gallerists, including those from overseas, were quoted as saying they were pleased with the sales from the first two days. Nevertheless, a few gallerists who asked to remain anonymous wished the first day’s invitations could be limited to art afficionados, lamenting the swarm of social butterflies who were too invested in documenting their presence they risked ruining the artworks.

So, what about the art this year? Let’s look at several interesting mediums and messages.

Generations of Indonesian artists were well represented by 40 domestic galleries and certain foreign galleries. Syagini Ratna Wulan’s installation for Venice Biennale 2019 occupied the main intersection, while Mella Jaarsma showed a taste of her performance art for Artjog 2023. Senior artist Nunung WS, coming off her well-received retrospective exhibition at Galeri Nasional, launched a book and new works. Erwin Windu Pranata took inspiration from the foliage and vegetations growing near his residence for his au courant sculpture. The large canvases in striking monochrome of a female profile by J Ariadhitya Pramuhendra in Srisasanti and Nadi are his ode to how the gender is underrepresented and undervalued in his Catholic faith, illustrated poignantly by the Jesus crown of thorns circling the head.

Installation by Syagini Ratna Wulan for Venice Biennale 2019, Art Jakarta 2023
Dokumentasi: Lynda Ibrahim

Mella Jaarsma preparing performance art with models, Baik Art gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Work of Nunung WS, D’Gallerie, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Erwin Windu Pranata and his work, Artsociates Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Enin Supriyanto (Artistic Director of Art Jakarta) checking the works of J. Ariadhitya Pramuhendra, Srisasanti Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Irfan Hendrian’s series on charred papers, alluding to the 1998 racial riots that burned down Chinese Indonesians’ properties, returned via Sullivan + Strumpf. Iwan Effendi, initially known for being half the power behind Papermoon Puppet, enjoyed the spotlight at Mizuma that’s also holding his solo exhibition at its Singapore premise.

Irfan Hendrian and his work, Sullivan & Strumpf Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Artist Iwan Effendi greeting curator Farah Wardani in front of his works, Mizuma Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Presented by Interni Cipta Selaras

Well-known names like Whitestone and Ota were present among the 28 foreign galleries, with Whitestone bringing the always adorable sculptures of Osamu Watanabe. Ota Gallery drew much attention from Yayoi Kusama’s purple giant pumpkin in the front, yet it’s the seemingly cheerful cat-themed paintings by Nobuaki Takekawa hung inside that spoke volumes of activist-politician Shozo Tanaka and Ashio copper mine incident in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan’s first environmental disaster in 1890. Such well-timed works, just as the on-going art exhibition of ecological disasters for Mori Museum’s 20th anniversary in Tokyo, considering Japanese government’s recent decision to dump water from damaged Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean. (hyperlink to AWT 2023 writing)

Work of Osamu Watanabe, Whitestone Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Works of NobuakiTakekawa, Ota Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Korean artists were highlighted this year, with a dedicated corner managed by the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE) in addition to several Korea-based galleries. Korean pop culture fans were seen visiting the galleries, taking interest in the works like Kim Ji Hee’s that connected to their cultural references. Lee Sangsoo’s lovely wooden flamingos returned, as well as Jae Yong Kim’s cheerful ceramic donuts. Standing by a wall of his almost edible works, the energetic artist and Seoul Tech University professor happily explained how he took his favorite snack as a representation of too-much-good-is-bad, forbidden apple, philosophies, applying the visual layer from what strikes him fancy—pop culture, foreign cultures, other artists. It’s uncertain whether Art Jakarta collectors snapping up his works portraying Batman, Kusama’s dots or Indian paisleys understood all that, it might just be that they fancied some cute donuts on their wall. And at art fairs, a commercial event where art supply and demand meet, striking one’s fancy is essentially what makes the business wheel go round.

See you again in Art Jakarta on 4-6 October 2024 at JIEXPO, Kemayoran

Works of Kim Ji Hee, Theo Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Work of Lee Sangsoo, Gallery Yeh, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

Jae Yong Kim and his works, Baik Art Gallery, Art Jakarta 2023
Documentation: Lynda Ibrahim

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