The 2009 Art Scene

In 2009 it is generally agreed that the Indonesian art market shows a gradual recovery after the significant fall of the market due to the world financial crisis that happened towards the end of 2008. Generally speaking, the prices of most artists’ works, which had risen significantly starting May 2007 until September 2008, became corrected. People who were still active in the market, concentrated on the top selling artists, and their works continued to fetch prices as high as they were during the period of boom.
It turned out that during the period of boom many collectors amassed Contemporary Art without really having an appreciation let alone an comprehension about what the works were all about. At the end of last year, they started to realize that they would be better off sticking with works by the Modern Masters with which they were more familiar and were able to comprehend. While works by the Modern Masters were pretty much neglected during the period of boom, in 2009 they became much sought after. Many of the Mooi Indie paintings became back in fashion and in demand.
Perhaps the financial crisis that led to the slowing down of the market can also be considered as a blessing in disguise, as it provided the opportunity for a time of reflection. This resulted in many quality exhibitions that were not so much meant for the selling of artworks but truly for the enhancement of knowledge and appreciation of art.

Top 5 Art Exhibitions in 2009
Among the best exhibitions this year, many indeed were solo exhibitions that served as a record about the artist’s diligent work and rigorous explorations. At the same time, they evidenced his/her dedication to fine art. It is interesting to note that the most interesting exhibitions go beyond two dimensional works. Most of them all explore the third dimension as well.

1. Agus Suwage 50th Anniversary Exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years
Jogja National Museum, July 5-31, 2009
Curator: Enin Supriyanto
Presented in an manner that places the show compatible with any other international art exhibitions presented even in the most prominent art museums, this exhibition was by far the largest and most extensive expose of a single Indonesian artist’s artworks. It really showed the breadth of the artists oeuvre and range of interests was well as the depth of his exploration, research and discussion of the issues surrounding the subjects. By so doing, the exhibition really showed the the root and progress of Agus Suwage’s artistic progress, contributing to a further understanding about the development Indonesian Contemporary Art. It was deliberately staged in Yogyakarta, using the former premises of the Indonesian Art Institute, which has been used as an exhibition space for the last couple of years. The artist and curator considers Yogyakarta as a city that is more appropriate and condusive —as it is more accessible and better equipped with support systems— for staging collosal art exhibitions.

2. Mella Jaarsma, The Fitting Room
National Gallery of Indonesia, October 27th – November 8th, 2009
Curator: Agung Hujatnikajennong
This wonderful exhibition staged Mella’s comprehensive exploration of the idiom of concealment and identity which she has pursued since 1993, and has consistently worked on until now. The various forms of concealment, such as clothing, the vail, the hijab, even tents and so forth, provide an entry point into the issues of identity and cultural contradictions in society. As a Dutch born artist who has been studying and working in Indonesia for 25 years, she has certainly been encountering matters of identity and the problems of cultural interactions throughout a significant period of time in her life. Her objects and installations are made using a diverse range of materials, including army camouflage textile, frog’s skin, zippers, badges, silk cocoons and even dried seaweed and cuttlefish. Over twenty models sported the works at the opening, offering extra excitement!

3.Contemporary Archeology A Group Exhibition of 15 Young Sculptors from Bandung
SIGIarts, April 28th – May 10th, 2009
Curator: Asmudjo Jono Irianto
The mainstream art collectors’ perception of art as comprising of mainly paintings are challenged by the various intriguing art objects presented by the young artists in this exhibition. Innovation and irony often emerge as part of their explorations and adds to the excitement of this show.

4. Yuli Prayitno “I Love …”
Nadi Gallery, April 1 – 13 2009
Curator: Enin Supriyanto
The meticulously handled and finely crafted pieces in this show challenge the audiences perception about objects, the material of which they are made and the substance of his ideas. Things that we normally consider as being hard, are created using a soft material, causing contradictions in perception. Paradoxes, irony build up layers of significances as he presents symbols of loves using plastic toy figurines that are normally used to by kids to play their games of war. It was a fun exhibition that does not allow its audience to merely view the pieces at face value, but it draws them into the works to find further meanings.

5. Prilla Tania solo exhibition ‘Mikrokosmos’
MD Art Space, October 2009
Curator: Agung Hujatnikajennong
Essentially summarizing Prilla Tania’s works since 2005, this exhibition offers yet another dimension to the 2009 art scene. It comprises of photography, drawings, patchwork, and particularly video art pieces which are essentially a combination of drawings, performance art and packaged in video works. The dynamic pieces apparently appealed to an audience that is noticeably younger than the usual collectors of paintings.

Other noteworthy exhibitions
Here are five among the most interesting among many other exhibitions that are worth noting in 2009: two art fairs, a biennial, an anniversary exhibition and a solo exhibition. This year there were two art fairs organized in Jakarta alone. Another, which appeared in Yogyakarta, was not the typical art fair that was comprised of various galleries, but rather a kind of grand exhibition organized by an art management enterprise. What do the rise in popularity of these art fairs signify? It might be too early to tell. In any case, all the exhibitions do indicate a tremendous progress in Indonesian art today.

Bazaar Art Jakarta
Ritz Carlton Ballroom, Pacific Place, August 28-30th
Organizer: Dian M Soedarjo

Jakarta Bienale 09 – Fluid Zones
National Gallery of Indonesia dan Grand Indonesia, February 2009
Curator: Agung Hujatnikajennong

Jogja Art Fair
Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, August 2009
Organizer: Heri Pemad

Saftari – Anxious Object
Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery, January 2009
Curator: Rifky Effendy

The Living Legends, an exhibition commemorating the 25 th Anniversary of Edwin’s Gallery
National Gallery of Indonesia, August 2009
Curator: Suwarno Wisetrotomo and Farah Wardani

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