Jakarta Art Guide

Jakarta, once known as Batavia, was the de facto capital of the Dutch East Indies during more than a couple centuries of colonial rule. The city was established as early as the 5th century and quickly became an important trading port. As Indonesia's current capital city, Jakarta's business opportunities attract people from across the island nation, bringing together many communities and cultures over centuries of rapid development. A reflection of this cultural and historical diversity can truly be felt and seen in Jakarta's vibrant art sphere.

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An arts organisation called Batavia Art Circle (Bataviasche Kunstkring) was formed in 1902. A building in the centre of the city was dedicated to the art society and in the 20th century exhibited works by van Gogh, Picasso, van Dongen, Chagall, Kandinsky, Ensor, and Kollwitz as a part of an exhibition of European art commissioned by Dutch entrepreneur and art collector Pierre Alexandre Regnault.

From the late 1930s, the nation's first artist association—the Union of Indonesian Painters (Persatuan Ahli-Ahli Gambar Indonesia or PERSAGI), founded in Jakarta in 1938 by a group of Indonesian artists—criticised the European style of paintings that depicted the romantic landscapes of the Dutch East Indies. They advocated a new modern art that held a distinctly Indonesian identity and highlighted the struggle of the Indonesian people under the colonial system.

Jakarta bore witness to the birth of the Indonesian New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru) in 1974. The movement sprung out of protests during the judging of the first edition of what would later be known as the Jakarta Biennale. They centred around the institutional limiting of what could constitute Indonesian fine art practice. Notable figures of the movement include artists and art-world figures, such as Jim Supangkat, Dadang Christanto, and FX Harsono, who championed installations, ready-mades, photographs, and photo-realist paintings.

In 2017, the Jakarta Biennale appointed performance artist Melati Suryodarmo as its artistic director, along with four curators from the Indonesian and international art stage.

In the southern part of the city, Ruangrupa—loosely translating to 'space for art'—is one of the leading artist-run spaces in Jakarta. It is also the name of the founding art collective that was established in 2000 and consists of Indonesian contemporary artists Ade Darmawan, Reza Afisina, and Iswanto Hartono, among others. The collective launched OK. Video—Indonesia Media Arts Festival to create a platform for a wider range of artworks than the standard art fair. This range includes digital imaging, sound art, and internet-based works, along with an exciting programme of workshops. Ruangrupa has been appointed as the curator of the 2022 edition of Documenta in Kassel. They will be the first Documenta artistic directors from the Asian region.

In addition to artist-initiated events and spaces, Jakarta is home to one of the country's most important institutions: the National Gallery of Indonesia. The museum houses over 1700 artworks by Indonesian and international artists such as Raden Saleh, Pierre Soulages, Sutjipto Adi, and Zao Wou-Ki. The most recent addition to the energetic art scene in Jakarta, The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN), is the first Indonesian museum fully devoted to modern and contemporary art from Indonesia and around the world, showcasing contemporary artworks by Andy Warhol, Arahmaiani, Cai Guo Qiang, Christine Ay Tjoe, Karel Appel, Lee Ufan, Robert Rauschenberg, and Yayoi Kusama, to name a few.

Contemporary Institutions In Jakarta

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Ruangrupa contemporary art institution in Jakarta, Indonesia Ruangrupa Jakarta

Jakarta In Ocula Magazine

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Art Jakarta Drops Anchor in a Stormy Southeast Asian Art Market Ocula Report Art Jakarta Drops Anchor in a Stormy Southeast Asian Art Market By Sam Gaskin, Jakarta

Jakarta may be sinking, prompting the announcement last month that Indonesia will create a new capital on the island of Borneo, but the city's longest-running art fair is on the rise. Founded by the license holder of Harper's Bazaar Indonesia, the fair began as Bazaar Art Jakarta in 2008. While it's still owned by the same holding company, MRA...

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Art Jakarta Lowdown: Art Shows to See Ocula Report Art Jakarta Lowdown: Art Shows to See By Aisha Johan, Jakarta

Between 30 August and 1 September 2019, the 11th edition of Art Jakarta will take place at its new home at the Jakarta Convention Center following its rebranding, with collector Tom Tandio as director, and Enin Supriyanto as artistic director. At the fair, viewers can encounter large-scale exhibitions as part of the 'Spot' sector, including...

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Art Jakarta: World spirit, Independence Day and Asian Games Ocula Report Art Jakarta: World spirit, Independence Day and Asian Games By Hera Chan, Jakarta

A four-legged beast with an ornate mirror for a face and the hybridized horns of a Bawean deer stands in the centre of Chan + Hori Contemporary's booth at the tenth Art Jakarta (2–5 August 2018), housed in the Grand Ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton. This contemporary mythical beast is Lugas Syllabus's Wild Legend (2018): a strong teak wood testament...

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Ocula Report: Art Stage Jakarta 2016 Ocula Report Ocula Report: Art Stage Jakarta 2016 By Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva, Jakarta

For its first edition, which ran from 5th to 7th August 2016, Art Stage Jakarta bustled with exuberant visitors, and the overall atmosphere was one of heightened excitement and activity.  Works shown throughout the fair   represented a wide consideration of contemporary and modern art. There were representations...

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Recent Events In Jakarta

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Contemporary art exhibition, Art Jakarta 2019 at Ocula Private Sales & Advisory, London
30 August–1 September Art Jakarta 2019


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