Artists Celebrate As Art Jakarta Resumes After Hiatus

Two years since the last Art Jakarta was held, the fair is back and stronger than ever – with galleries, artists, collectors, and curious observers flocking to the Jakarta Convention Center.

The return of the fair, which began on Friday and is now in its 12th iteration, marks the first major art event in Indonesia since the pandemic began.

Its primary purpose is commercial – to connect artists, galleries, and other stakeholders with potential buyers.

More than 60 galleries from Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia are showing their collections at the fair. More than 500 artists will attend, and more than 25,000 visitors are expected.

“Indonesia is a superpower when it comes to art. It has strong output and a strong scene. It stayed intact and was able to re-establish itself and come back strong. Everyone is happy to be here,” Gil Schneider, consultant for Art Jakarta, said.

“The most important thing is to show the market is strong, and there is demand. Collectors are back, buying art. We are happy to see that sales are strong, and the market is back on its feet.”

This year’s event also has a distinctly celebratory tone. It is a reunion for Indonesia’s established art world, a chance to reconnect, as the country’s creatives emerge from a difficult period.

“It’s not just the artists, but those who display art, like galleries and art management, everyone is excited to work together again. Slowly, we can see the situation is getting better,” said one of the artists at the fair, Depok-based artist Meliantha Muliawan.

Esti Nurjadin, the owner of D Gallerie in south Jakarta, said she’s enthusiastic about showing her pieces in person again.

“This is the first big event for art, and it has made us very excited, after two years of everything being online. It was difficult for galleries,” she said. “For us, to be able to get to the point of transaction, we need to meet in person. Collectors want to see the art and experience it – rather than looking at it on a screen.”

One of the pieces she is displaying is by Indonesian artist Soni Irawan. Ten guitars are stuck to the wall, but the bodies of the instruments have been swapped out for briefcases.

“It is difficult to take a picture and show this on a screen. If you are here, you can see the depth, you can imagine: What would this look like in my home or office? Showing an artwork like this online will not have the same feel or grab people’s attention.”

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