From col­o­niza­tion to glob­al­iza­tion

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - News - by Richard Horstman

In­done­sia is rich in cul­tural di­ver­sity and tra­di­tional ex­pres­sions that have evolved since pre­his­toric times. Its newer codes of artis­tic ac­tiv­ity, though, re­main largely un­rec­og­nized. For­eign­ers be­gan ar­riv­ing in In­done­sia start­ing from the fourth cen­tury and the Hindu-Bud­dhist, Chi­nese, Is­lamic and Euro­pean cul­tures all have had ma­jor in­flu­ences upon the ar­chi­pel­ago. Our story, how­ever, be­gins with a Ja­vanese aris­to­crat, Raden Saleh (1809-1880). Hailed as the pi­o­neer of In­done­sian mod­ern art, Saleh spent more than 20 years train­ing in Europe, be­com­ing the first In­done­sian to master western paint­ing styles. He doc­u­mented con­tem­po­rary nar­ra­tives, while his most fa­mous work painted in 1857,

Pe­nangka­pan Pangeran Di­pane­gara (The Cap­ture of Prince Dipone­goro) de­picts the cap­ture of a Na­tional Hero, Dipone­goro, by the Dutch colo­nial forces. “Saleh came straight out of the cen­ter of the in­ter­na­tional art world dur­ing a revo­lu­tion­ary pe­riod of art mak­ing and marked the be­gin­ning of new art in In­done­sia,” said Werner Kraus, Ger­man art his­to­rian and cu­ra­tor of the land­mark 2012 ex­hi­bi­tion at the Na­tional Gallery of In­done­sia, Raden Saleh and the Be­gin­ning of Mod­ern In­done­sia Paint­ing. One of the most suc­cess­ful ex­hi­bi­tions in the na­tion’s his­tory, it brought to­gether 40 paint­ings and draw­ings from abroad, al­low­ing lo­cal au­di­ences to re­dis­cover Saleh. Early in the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, the Mooi In­die nat­u­ral­is­tic style marked signs of de­vel­op­ment in In­done­sian mod­ern art. Na­tion­al­ist artists how­ever, re­acted against the main­stream cre­ated dur­ing this pe­riod of the col­o­niza­tion, ar­gu­ing that “pretty pic­tures” painted by for­eign artists had no con­nec­tion with the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal sen­ti­ments of the in­dige­nous peo­ple. The new art move­ment PERSAGI and the ideals cham­pi­oned by S. Sud­jo­jono (19131986) in the 1930s then gained mo­men­tum. They stip­u­lated that con­tem­po­rary art should re­flect an artist’s views to ex­press the so­cial thoughts that char­ac­ter­ized the na­tion. The search for a new iden­tity and a na­tion­al­is­tic paint­ing style be­gan, and artists as­so­ci­a­tions played a defin­ing role. Fol­low­ing the Procla­ma­tion of In­de­pen­dence on Aug. 17, 1945, the art world be­came more dy­namic. The na­tion’s first president, Sukarno, an avid art lover, helped model Jakarta as a cen­ter for the arts, com­mis­sion­ing sculp­tures and re­liefs for pub­lic spa­ces. It was the be­gin­ning of In­done­sian pub­lic art. Sukarno adorned the state palaces with thou­sands of works by In­done­sian and for­eign artists, 28 of which were re­cently ex­hib­ited, at the Na­tional Gallery in 17/ 71, Gore­san Juang Ke­merdekaan (The Brush­strokes of the In­de­pen­dence Strug­gle). Opened on Aug. 17, 2016 by President Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo, the ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tured scenes of the In­de­pen­dence War by mae­stros such as Af­fandi, Sud­jo­jono and Saleh, along­side pic­tures of iconic In­done­sia by Sri­hadi Su­dar­sono, Ru­dolf Bon­net and Wal­ter Spies. Art acad­e­mies were in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of art in the two ma­jor cen­ters of art pro­duc­tion. The Ban­dung In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (ITB) was founded by the colo­nial govern­ment in 1947. Its western in­cli­na­tion was strength­ened by its first gen­er­a­tion of teach­ers who had stud­ied over­seas. Born dur­ing the Revo­lu­tion in 1950 in Yo­gyakarta, the In­done­sian Fine Arts Academy (ASRI), later the In­done­sian Art In­sti­tute (ISI), en­dorsed art de­rived from tra­di­tional cul­ture that pro­moted na­tion­al­is­tic ideals. The acad­e­mies were re­spon­si­ble for many of the coun­try’s most im­por­tant artists. The Ba­li­nese painter Ny­oman Mas­ri­adi, a 36-year-old dropout from ISI Yo­gyakarta in 2008, achieved the pres­tige of be­ing the first liv­ing South­east Asian artist whose works topped US$1 mil­lion at auc­tion–a feat that im­me­di­ately pro­pelled him into the in­ter­na­tional spot­light. Yet it was Af­fandi (1907-1990), ar­guably the coun­try’s most im­por­tant mod­ernist, famed for his dis­tinc­tive bold, and fluid lines, who ini­tially achieved in­ter­na­tional ac­claim. In 1954, he be­came the first In­done­sian to ex­hibit at one of art’s most pre­em­i­nent plat­forms, the Venice Bi­en­nale. Dur­ing the Soe­harto era (1965–1998), artists re­belled against the re­pres­sive regime cre­at­ing satir­i­cal and ironic works. The for­ma­tion in 1975 of the In­done­sia New Art Move­ment by young artists that op­posed the es­tab­lish­ment was the foun­da­tion of con­tem­po­rary art prac­tices. In 1988, the Cemeti Gallery in Yo­gyakarta, an avant-garde artist-driven ini­tia­tive, estab­lished the first al­ter­na­tive space, and went on to shape the in­ter­na­tional face of In­done­sian con­tem­po­rary art. Ma­jor so­ciopo­lit­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions and In­done­sia’s strive to­wards democ­racy dur­ing the late 1990s gave birth to the post-Re­form gen­er­a­tion of artists.

The con­tem­po­rary era has been de­fined by art with a com­mer­cial em­pha­sis, artists. How­ever, it has been hin­dered by the de­fi­ciency of an estab­lished art in­fra­struc­ture, in­sti­tu­tions, mu­se­ums, gal­leries with­out in­ter­na­tional busi­ness mod­els and a lack of govern­ment sup­port. A lack of clear cri­te­ria and bound­aries, along with gaps in the doc­u­men­ta­tion of art his­tory com­pounded this as well. The Yo­gyakarta Open Stu­dio (YOS), a pro­gram of stu­dio vis­its with a plat­form for di­a­logue and col­lab­o­ra­tion ad­dressed this is­sue in Oc­to­ber. “We wish to jump-start the con­ver­sa­tion about qual­i­fi­ca­tion and high­light how as­pir­ing In­done­sian art his­to­ri­ans go about gain­ing the ed­u­ca­tion they need in a coun­try that still doesn’t of­fer a de­gree in art his­tory,” said YOS Di­rec­tor Chris­tine Cocca. The na­tional art scene is sup­ported by a strong cul­ture of col­lect­ing with ma­jor col­lec­tors open­ing pri­vate mu­se­ums, and some pro­mot­ing In­done­sian art over­seas. Auc­tion houses thrived dur­ing the 2008 con­tem­po­rary art boom, while art fairs now play a defin­ing mar­ket role. Up­com­ing in May ArtJog cel­e­brates its tenth edi­tion, while Bazaar Art Jakarta 2017 presents its ninth in­stall­ment in July. Art Stage Jakarta, the new in­clu­sion and off­shoot of the re­gion’s lead­ing fair Art Stage Sin­ga­pore, presents its sec­ond edi­tion this Au­gust. Its move to In­done­sia is a clear sig­nal of the strength and po­ten­tial of the mar­ket, and the qual­ity of In­done­sian art. The most an­tic­i­pated event of 2017 will fall in Oc­to­ber with the open­ing in Jakarta of the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary and Mod­ern Art Nusaan­tara (MACAN). Ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor Aaron Seeto, “MACAN aims to de­velop aware­ness and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art in In­done­sia, host in­ter­cul­tural ex­changes and to nur­ture the pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment and hu­man re­sources for In­done­sian art.”

Yo­gyakarta artist Galam Zulk­ifi’s “Seri Il­lusi” paint­ings honor key fig­ures in the de­vel­op­ment of the In­done­sia, while in­volv­ing re­search into media ex­per­i­men­ta­tion to cre­ate com­po­si­tions where the im­agery changes ac­cord­ing to lev­els and an­gles of light.

Gore­san Juang Ke­merdekaan Cu­ra­tor Mikke Su­santo ex­plain­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the paint­ing Pe­nangka­pan Pangeran Dipone­goro 1857, by Raden Saleh dur­ing the cu­ra­tors ex­hi­bi­tion tour at the Na­tional Gallery of In­done­sia.

Ar­guably In­done­sia’s most im­por­tant mod­ernist, Af­fandi was the first In­done­sian to ex­hibit at the Venice Bi­en­nale, Italy in 1953.

Handi­wirman Sa­pu­tra is renowned for his con­tem­po­rary works that chal­lenge the ob­server.

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