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Fadilah Karim’s Against All Odds.

WAS it a good turnout for Art Stage’s debut in Jakarta?

Yes. There was participation from 49 galleries (16 from Indonesia), and more than 15,000 visitors converged over a three-day period from Aug 5 to Aug 7. Sales were strong, and our very own Richard Koh Gallery’s Natee Utarit’s Samlee & Co. The Absolutely Fabulous Show did extremely well.

Every piece was sold. But selling is not all it should be about.

Visitors to the fair at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel comprised famed Indonesian collectors including Deddy Kusuma, Alex Tedja, Dr Ir. Ciputra, Caecil Papadimitriou, Rudy Akili, Haryanto Adikoesoemo, Alexandra Prasetio, Dr Hong Djien Oei, Prasodio Winarko and Susan Santoso.

International collectors included Datuk Marcus Tan and Datuk Noor Azman from Malaysia, Japan’s Daisuke Miyatsu and Adrian Garcia and Lindsay Licup from the Philippines.

Founder and president of Art Stage Lorenzo Rudolf opened the event by saying: “It (the fair) is both emotional and personal, and objective of course, an endeavour impossible if not for the unconditional support of Indonesia’s art scene in its entirety. From collectors to galleries and artists, the journey has been incredible, one which started from Deddy Kusuma; he introduced me to the Indonesia art world back in 2008. This culminated into Art Stage Jakarta, inviting everyone to savour in the country’s wonderfully diverse art, its rich culture.”

From our own shores, three galleries took part. Wei-Ling Gallery has always been known to show works of an “alternate flavour”, and its Jakarta unveiling doesn’t disappoint. From the fiendishly clever compositions of Anurendra Jegadeva’s (J. Anu) The Red Wedding I & II, to printmaker Juhari Said’s Dalmation/Flower, Chin Kong Yee’s diptych Jack and the Beanstalk, Wong Chee Meng’s Hundred Subgraph, Yau Bee Ling’s Shoving the Green Pasture, Hamidi Hadi’s Perfect Moment 2, sculptor extraordinaire Amin Gulgee’s Algorithm 1 and Ascension II, and of course, the peculiarly-beautiful 2 Pigs by Sean Lean, which caused many to double-back and engage in a staring contest of sorts. A bit of an exercise in futility as the painting wins every time.

Said Wei-Ling gallery’s director Lim Wei-Ling: “Indonesian audiences are, in general, attentive and very receptive. It will take some time for them to familiarise with our artists. The collecting habit here is very mature and there’s always room for international galleries to make their presence felt.”

Meanwhile, Kenny Teng from G 13 gallery shared: “We’ve received very positive feedback. Artist Fadilah Karim especially garnered quite a bit of interest with a gallery expressing interest to collaborate for a future show.”

The gallery’s entries are more subdued and “safe” compared to the other two Malaysian galleries but are equally riveting.

Artists Kow Leong Kiang, Chong Ai Lei, Fadilah Karim, Nik Mohd Hazri and Hisyamuddin Abdullah were all standouts, with works showing a lovely ripeness, beautiful presence and command. And Fadilah, her signature battered, bloodied, damaged, and enflamed minds and bodies are always a head-turner, and subsequently, a “money-burner”.

Ricahard Koh Fine Art presented Natee Utarit’s Samlee & Co The Absolutely Fabulous Show, a marvellous story-telling of powerful imagery. Utarit voices his characters with a refined sensibility and deep empathy which simply wows. At the end of it, we all want to meet the Sandman Samlee a.k.a. Kasim, and partake in his magical world of illusions and dreams.


Chin Kong Yee’s Jack and The Beanstalk.

SPECIAL SHOWCASE

Two special commissions were brought to Art Stage Jakarta: The Collectors Show and Affandi - The Human Face. The former, curated by Enin Supriyanto, gives viewers a rare preview of private collections belonging to Alex Tedja, (whose Gandaria City Mall houses along its corridors,

colossal Fernando Botero, Robert Indiana and Yayoi Kusama’s sculptures which warrants its own extensive review), Deddy Kusuma, Rudy Akili, Dr Melani Setiawan, Tom Tandio and Wiyu Wahono spread over 55 square metres and featuring 14 works by to name some, Ryoji Ikeda, Ronald Ventura, Handiwirman Saputra, I Nyoman Masriadi, Melati Suryodarmo and Wimo Ambala Bayang in varying mediums.

And the latter, Affandi - The Human Face was something else entirely. It was the exhibit most media representatives made a mad dash for. It’s not often, almost never, that one gets the opportunity to get an up close look at the self-portraits of one of Indonesia’s greats.

There were 17 works shown, divided into two sub categories, Daily Life and Still Portraits, both of which stilled beating hearts.

Affandi was and still is a legend. The lashing, tortuous brush strokes he utilised to convey vivacity and vigour into his self portraits are just glorious to see. Those blazing reds, butter hues, shades of jade, olive, emerald and hints of coffee and flesh tinges, gives us a sense of the artist’s spiritual and emotional nadirs. We see him age, literally, before us. And those eyes... they follow you. We were hoping for an appearance by his daughter, artist Kartika Affandi-Koberl, but that was not on the cards.

Art Stage Jakarta also conducted a series of talks over two days. Conversations included a dialogue session discussing artist-collector relationships helmed by Deddy Kusuma and Chinese artist Yue Minjun, government strategies and policies in supporting the development of contemporary art by Hilmar Farid, (general director for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia) Triawan Munaf, (chief of BEKRAF) Felipe de Leon Jr. (chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts) and Ricky Francisco (curator of Lopez Museum and Fundacion Sanso Museum) and the roles of art competitions and awards presided by Andonowati, (director of Lawangwangi, on Bandung Contemporary Art Award) Desiree Irawati (art division manager, Bank Mandiri on Mandiri Art Award) and Lorenzo Rudolf on Joseph Balestier Award for Freedom of Art.

As we ingest/digest Art Stage Jakarta and set our sights for 2017’s installation, we stream to poet John Keats’ laments in A Thing of Beauty (Endymion):

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing

A flowery band to bind us to the earth,

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,

Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways

Made for our searching: yes, inspite of all,

Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,

Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon

For simple sheep; and such are daffodils

With the green world they live in; and clear rills

That for themselves a cooling covert make

‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,

Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms

We have imagined for the mightydead;

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

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