Recently, I have been doing research on the history of art exhibitions in Indonesia prior to 1965. The availability of a few online sources in the Netherlands and Australia that are open to the public has helped tremendously. Most important art exhibitions seem to have been announced, previewed or reviewed in the new papers, particularly during the 1930s through 1950s. From this research we will be get a feel about how the art scenes in major cities were like during that time.

In the past few years, art fairs have dominated the art market scene, while art biennales have also stolen the attention of the art audience every other year. This year is not a biennale year, and it seems that gallery exhibitions are making a comeback. Photo by Amir Sidharta/NOW!JAKARTA

As I browsed through the hundreds of scanned documents, I wondered how art history research will be 60 to 80  years from now. As the print media rapidly becomes extinct, researchers will have to rely on online publications that are still available then. Will everything that once was on the internet be archived? I know that many bloggers have lost what they wrote on social networking service sites that no longer exist. Most of these sites, even the famous ones, have a “life expectancy” of less than a decade. With that in mind, I wonder, once they terminate their service will any trace of what has been published in it be available for research?

Also around the 1930s -50s, the idea of time capsules became quite popular. Time capsules were a cache of things from a certain period of time, collected and placed in a container and buried usually during a ceremonial event meant to help future historians or archaeologists to obtain a certain sample of material culture about a specific time in the past. Certainly time capsules are gimmicks that will fail to offer a comprehensive view about history in the academic sense, but nonetheless they do provide an interesting glimpse about the past.

These thoughts led me to a new idea for the second decade of writing for “NOW! Jakarta”: Art Time Capsule, which is basically a report on a few exhibitions happening in Jakarta during a specific period of time, meant not only for current readers of “NOW! Jakarta”, but also so that future art historians will be able to get a glimpse about the art scene in their past. We will start with this article and in the years to come the Art Time Capsule will appear in different times of the year.

Glorious morning near the lotus pond.

Art Time Capsule December 2018
In the past few years, art fairs have dominated the art market scene, while art biennales have also stolen the attention of the art audience every other year. This year is not a biennale year, and it seems that gallery exhibitions are making a comeback. Although there may be other exhibitions happening in Jakarta, these exhibitions will be on show in December 2018.

Exhibition at Cans Gallery

On Thursday, 22 November 2018, Gusmen Heriadi’s Deep Skin – Skin Deep exhibition opened at Ciptadana’s headquarters at Plaza Asia on Jl. Sudirman in South Jakarta, as part of Ciptadana’s Art Program, presented and curated annually by Emmo Italiaander. This is the eighth year of the program, annually featuring a solo exhibition of an accomplished Indonesian artist or an artist living in Indonesia. A function room of the corporate headquarters was temporarily transformed into a contemporary art gallery especially for the event. There, Gusmen’s brightly coloured yet contemplative paintings were presented to a responsive audience of the business and financial community of the city.  

The following day, an exhibition of the impressionistic paintings of Indonesian subject matter Dutch artist Pierre Guillaume opened at Duta Fine Art, one of the oldest surviving galleries in Kemang, South Jakarta, that has been holding exhibitions for over thirty years. The so-called “Mediterranean” style building of the gallery, which dates from the time the gallery opened in the mid 1980s, housed the collection of paintings nicely. The paintings, which essentially are present-day Mooi Indie (“Beautiful Indies”) images, provide a pleasant alternative to collectors who choose to enjoy art for their visual pleasure.

Painting by Gusmen Heriadi.

On Saturday, 24 November 2018  Enin Supriyanto and his Projectsby9 presents an exhibition of contemporary artist Ary “Jimged” Sendy works entitled “Inherited Order,” curated by Grace Samboh at the Rubanah Underground Hub at Wisma Geha (basement) on Jl. Timor, Central Jakarta. A stark contrast to the exhibition at Duta, this exhibition presents installations, video and archives about a phenomenon that has been lingering in the artist’s mind for quite some time now. Rather than visual pleasure, viewers will more likely leave the show with thoughts and questions, some or many of which may be disturbing, but also might be transformational.

On Saturday, 8 December 2018 an exhibition of paintings by Arkiv Vilmansa will open at Cans Gallery in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. In this show, entitled “Childhood Memories: The Invisible Chapters,” the artist’s exploration of his medium, particularly acrylic paints led him to memories of the innocence and freedom that prevailed during his childhood.

Pierre Guillaume’s paintings at Duta Fine Art Gallery would be a stark contrast to Ary “Jimged” Sendy’s installations and videos at Rubanah Underground Hub. It would be interesting to compare Gusmen Heriadi’s philosophical contemplations that he presented in his painting with Arkiv’s reflections on his childhood past. It The art that will be on show in various exhibitions held in Jakarta in December 2018 clearly shows the diversity of the art scene in the city.

Amir Sidharta

Amir Sidharta

Amir Sidharta leads Sidharta Auctioneer, an auction house specialising in fine arts that he founded in 2005. He is also co-founder and chairman of Yayasan Mitra Museum Jakarta. A writer and photographer, he has published several books and his work has appeared across several media outlets.