Yogyakarta and Bandung are the most saturated art cities in Indonesia and home to dozens of established and emerging contemporary artists working across all mediums. During my brief stay I was able to explore this work in some depth with the help of collectors Deborah Iskandar, Natasha Siddarta and Melani Setiawan. Many of the artists have incredibly active and prolific art careers within Indonesia, however are not often featured in the international art press. Many of the artists have formed collectives and taken the role of gallerist into their own hands. I was really moved and impressed with the dedication of the artists I met; the work is highly collectible and explored work by photographers, sculptors, painters, mixed media, visionary puppeteers and textile artists. It hard to summarize and portray all the wonderful encounters during the trip, but here is a brief look at some of the artists and their work.
Afil Wijaya is a photographer and was an excellent guide to discovering some of the great artiss and galleries in the city of Yogyakarta. In addition to creating his own work, he also works for IndoArtNow which proved to be one of the best resources to research contemporary Indonesian artists. With an eye for visual puns, Afil's images are almost always equal parts pointed cultural criticism and humor.
It was a real privilege to meet AD Pirous at his home and studio in Bandung; he is definitely an important figure in understanding the evolution of contemporary art in Indonesia, a must see! Pirous has had a unique voice as a Muslim artist who uses text in different kinds of fonts to express his ideas. His influences range from traditional painting to more conceptual work from the sixties and seventies.
Iwan Effendi's work is magical. His puppets wear their hearts on their sleeves. Their ruddy cheeks, and knobby joints make them appear oddly life like. Effendi is a master of staging and production, the clips of performances are breathtaking in their use of light, music, sound and choreography. It is totally different than anything I have seen in puppetry. The nuance of each puppet shows the relationship Iwan has developed with these creatures. In addition he is also an incredible drawer and painter. His exhibitions are usually immersive installation that are created on site in the space.
Angki Purbandono's scanography has a really fascinating artistic constraint. By using the scanner, each item presents itself as a miniature sculpture or totem inspected under a microscope. Within this kind of micro-investigation, Purbandono's work has a meaningful dialogue between contemporary experience and European-colonial scientific investigation. He has created residencies and exhibition opportunities for younger artists, as well as one of the founding members of the leading photography collective in Indonesia, Mes56.
Uji Hahan's sculptures and paintings are charged with whimsy. Though clearly in dialogue with graffiti and cartoon illustration, Hahan's characters have a feeling of weight to them that is fundamentally different than street art. He has been widely exhibited and is one of founders of ACE House in Yogyakarta. illustration.
I spent a wonderful morning chatting with Nia Fliam at Babaran Segaragunung Culture House. She and her husband Agus Ismoyo have created a wonderful collaborative practice that is rooted in traditional Javanese Batique and the ancient mythologies of the culture. Their textile is invested in educating and empowering young artists in the traditions of Batique while interpreting through a contemporary lens. Nia and Agus are fantastic textile artists who are also working in creating contemporary forms that feel quite relevant in the larger discussion of textile and fine art.