Episode 2: The Lowdown on “Art Stage Jakarta 2017”

Art Stage Jakarta

Last week, I wrote about 2017 Art Jakarta (previously known as Bazaar Art Jakarta, the self-proclaimed “First & Biggest Art Fair in Indonesia”). That event, which ran from 27-30 July, essentially kicked off what, for me, is Jakarta’s “Art Season”. It was followed closely by the country’s youngest big art fair: Art Stage Jakarta (7-13 Aug).

Now in its second year running, Art Stage Jakarta is the sister show to Singapore’s popular Art Stage Singapore. I lived in Singapore myself for 4 years and was a yearly visitor to Art Stage there. As such, I was excited to learn the same fair was suddenly available here too.

The Art Stage events in Indonesia are divided into two: there’s the Art Stage Jakarta Week from 7-13 Aug, then there’s the actual fair from 9-13 Aug. The “Week” is a new addition this year, with a full agenda of exhibits, openings, performances, and talks in venues across the city. Meanwhile, the fair itself is hosted directly out of the Sheraton Grand Hotel – Gandaria City and adjacent Gandaria City Mall. Access the full programme on their site here.

Unfortunately, due to work schedules, it was difficult to attend much of what caught my eye on the agenda. Even so, I did manage to tick off 4 parts of the programme to satisfy my art craving.

First, my husband and I saw Tintin Wulia’s1001 Martian Homes and Other Stories” at Senayan City. It is structured to feel like you are walking into a future world, but you discover that the exhibit is actually set in the past (1987) looking into the future (today). The installation has video, sculptural, and interactive components. When you walk through one hallway, you see many small monitors with blinking eyes, sometimes a nose or a mouth, a flash of a face, people walking towards you and away. At the end of the hall is a door with a peephole and you realize that the videos you’ve just walked through are taken from those gazing into, or walking toward, the peephole. What is particularly interesting, there is an identical exhibit in Europe and the videos featured between Asia and Europe overlap. As you walk through, you could be looking at the eyes of someone peeking into a door just like this, but oceans away. There’s a certain poetry to that.

Another exhibit I went to was The Next Generation Aimee De Jongh and Peter Van Dongen Comic Exhibition at the Erasmus Huis. I took 3 colleagues with me after work for a quick visit on opening night – which was headlined by the artists themselves.

Aimee De Jongh1

Aimee De Jongh2Aimee De Jongh

I found Peter Van Dongen’s work particularly interesting – with a sort of “living” quality to it. He has a way of establishing a scene on paper (whether it be a landscape or a woman packing a bag or unpacking a closet) that makes the scene feel a certain way. He also seems to gravitate towards interesting angles that take the viewer into different territory. Indonesia features often in his work, and his color palette has a sort of nostalgic newspaper feel to it that I enjoyed as well.

Peter Van Dongen1

Peter Van Dongen2Some of Peter Van Dongen’s prints

Lastly, over the weekend, we were able to kill 2 birds with one stone at the Sheraton and Gandaria City Mall. First, we saw the main halls of Art Stage Jakarta – which takes the entire ballroom of the hotel, extending even to Skeenoo Hall in Gandaria City (which is connected to the hotel). We also saw a segment of The Art Square in the main atrium of Gandaria City Mall which was made up of primarily graphic arts and design exhibitions.

My impression of Art Stage, in general, was that it may not have been as carefully or exclusively curated as 2017 Art Jakarta but as a result, it was also much larger and much richer in content. I went with my husband and our toddler, and they both enjoyed it. Here are 5 artists in particular who made distinct impressions:

(1) Kang Kang Hoon’s oil paintings of his daughter and a Doberman were our favorites overall. What I loved the most about his paintings was the intimacy with which you felt the subject’s persona. There was such a sweetness to his depiction of his daughter, for example. Each little detail lovingly remembered on canvas – down to the fine hairs on her cheeks and back.

Kang Kang Hoon’s daughterKang Kang Hoon’s daughter

Doberman Kang Kang HoonDoberman by Kang Kang Hoon

(2) Aki Kondo’s interesting, vibrant expressionist floral paintings really drew me in. I found her boldness with color, texture, and strokes very appealing. I also like that there seems to be such a mix of styles in her work. It is a little bit abstract, a little expressionist, a little synthetic and analytical cubist. A little bit of a lot.

Aki KondoAki Kondo

(3) Elaine Navas’ “Whatever is Moved is Moved By Another” piece was right up my alley. I love it when artists play on textures, and I love seeing bodies of water depicted in art. Something about this, in particular, was quite evocative – the texture, the movement. It feels a bit like it is suspended in action. Elaine was one of a few Filipino artists who caught my eye that day. Another noteworthy one was Anton Del Castillo’s Divergence exhibit (brought in by Galerie Stephanie).

Elaine NavasElaine Navas

(4) The Indonesian art collective, Double Deer’s, “Special Art Project” for Art Stage was a standout. One portion of the exhibit was essentially an experiential sound stage made of fruits. Real, edible fruits. Each fruit was hooked up to wires that fed into a digital soundboard and matched each fruit to specific music/sound sample. Thus, each one acted like an instrument. As people touched the fruits, sounds emanated from a speaker creating a sort of orchestra. As the sensors were responsive to touch, the time with which you touched them affected measures followed suit. The more people touching different fruit at once, the more of a “song” you would get out, and the longer the music would go for. My understanding from the write-up on the project was that it was meant to explore space and time. For us, there was something about it that transported us back to being little kids again, like discovering something for the first time. Suffice to say, our toddler loved it too.

Double DeerSpecial Project: Double Deer

(5) Eddy Susanto’s incredible wooden masterpieces drew large crowds. The wood was either soldered or painted on with such incredible precision, you needed to come close and admire the level of detail more than once. He had 2 large pieces up, but this particular Last Supper remake formed out of what I think was old Javanese Sanskrit really stood out both for its sheer scale, and intricacy.

Eddy SusantoEddy Susanto

This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you are at all curious I would urge you to check the Art Stage Jakarta site yourself to learn more about the artists, and partners featured, and the general SEA art scene. We will definitely be back next year.

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