Now that the hype of Art Jakarta 2019 has quietened down, we take a look at the most interesting artworks that caught our attention at the fair—with a special eye to those who are a bit under the radar.
Text: Naima Morelli
Images: Coutesy of the galleries and the artists
1. Eddy Susanto at Lawangwangi Creative Space (Bandung)
Impressive in its scope and depth, The Renaissance of Panji is a project by Yogyakarta-based artist Eddy Susanto featuring both works on paper and acrylic paintings on canvas. The canvases were largely displayed inside a small immersive room built within Lawangwangi’s booth. The canvases featured the two lovers and protagonists of the traditional Javanese-Balinese text “The Tale of Panjii”. With the lights off, the works revealed a juxtaposition with mythological paintings from Renaissance Europe. Carrying strong symbolism and an artistic language of high complexity and exquisite detail, Eddy Susanto’s The Renaissance of Panji took viewers on a transnational experience, all within the walls of a fair booth.
2. Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan at Yavuz Gallery (Singapore/Sydney)
Popular and revered in the Southeast Asian art scene, you couldn’t help but stop in front of the powerful metaphors created by Brisbane-based Filipino artist couple Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan. Two works were presented at the booth of Yavuz Gallery. The first was a series of little boats and villages tackling the theme of migration, so near and dear to the entire region. Titled Vessels the work formed part of the larger project “After the Fleet” (2015-17). However, the most captivating was perhaps Left Wing Project, Wing C.—featuring a huge crow’s wing, with feathers made of sickles. This strong image represented the inextricable link between freedom and violence in today’s contemporary society.
3. Igak Murniasih (Murni) at Gajah Gallery (Singapore/Yogyakarta)
At the booth of Gajah Gallery, three paintings by late Balinese artist I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih—better known as Murni—were proudly on display. In her canvases Murni’s naive painting style describes the nuances of the women’s psyche, sufferings and desires in a patriarchal society. She elevates the protagonists of her works to the status of goddesses. Murni’s work has been recently rediscovered and recognized as central for the Indonesian female narrative. It was a pleasant surprise to find such an important artist presented within a fair context.
4. Yuree Kensaku at Tang Contemporary Art (Beijing/Hong Kong/Bangkok)
Among the typical heavyweights exhibited at Tang Contemporary were a delightful and refreshing find—the works of Thai-Japanese artist Yuree Kensaku. VOLUNTAD Guitar is playful and ironic, a colourful estrangement of contemporary living. A guitar shaped in a cartoonish wolf head, painted in pastel rainbow colours, VOLUNTAD Guitar is a small glimpse into Kensaku’s allyuring and joyful artistic universe.
5. Hasanul Isyraf Idris at Richard Koh Fine Art (Kuala Lumpur/Singapore/Bangkok)
Speaking about parallel worlds, the one inhabited by Malaysian artist Hasanul Isyraf Idris is a dystopian dimension which doesn’t know empty space. The horror vacui—also known as kenophobia‚ comprised of a colourful foods, animals and objects coexisting on the canvas surface is a powerful reflection of everyday society. And perhaps our own noisy mental space too. Chaotic and brutal, this series of works called “In The Night Market” is marked by a strong personal element, tied to the investigation of family ancestry and origins.
6. Filippo Sciascia at Yeo Workshop (Singapore)
Yeo Workshop’s booth perfectly incarnated the Singaporean gallery’s philosophy. Indeed, it catered to those who were willing to investigate and spend time with art. Marked by a strong conceptual approach and at the forefront of contemporary experimentation, the art presented needed silence and a thoughtful approach. Here Bali-based Italian artist Filippo Sciascia presented part of his latest series “Lumina Clorofilliana,” called Primitive Mornings. The artist took snippets of reality to elicit reflections on the connection between life, light, human evolution and the plants’ resilience.
7. Chen Chien-Jung at Project Fulfil Art Space (Taipei)
For the Taiwanese gallery Project Fulfil Art Space— who specialise in video art—this was the first participation in Art Jakarta. For their debut, they decided to showcase paintings which met the taste of the region, being both aesthetical pleasing and of conceptual strength. The works of Chen Chien-Jung were particularly impressive in their view of urbanism and architecture. Through a process of drawing and erasing, construction and deconstruction with the acrylic medium, Chen Chien-Jung manipulated architectural forms to get closer and closer to abstraction. Similar to the urbanisation process of Asia’s mega cities, in the painting process the architectural ideals clashed and intermingled with unexpected and spontaneous traces of everyday life.
8. You Ji In at The Columns Gallery (Seoul)
Presented in the Art Jakarta Spot section of the fair by The Columns Gallery from Seoul, you couldn’t possibly miss You Ji In’s eye-catching installation work North, K2. Comprised of a series of cracked mirrors with slogans from the North Korean propaganda and machine guns also composed of these cracked mirrors, the work elicited a meditation of how we easily identify with ideologies, as well as showing how fragile these ultimately are.
9. Agung Santosa at Nadi Gallery (Jakarta)
For those with an eye for the young emerging talents, fairs are a great chance to discover the up and coming of the new generations in the region. The works of 33-year-old Yogyakarta-based, Sumatra-born Agung Santosa is one such example. His work at the booth of Nadi Gallery titled Move in Silence, is an installation reminiscent of the Seni Rupa Baru Movement. The piece—comprised of a series of sheared feet, each one tattooed with a symbol of a chess pawn—holds a strong political undertone and serves as a metaphor for the power dynamics in Indonesia’s recent history.
10. Sinta Tantra at ISA Art & Design (Jakarta)
Young and cool, Sinta Tantra’s aesthetics is close to the world of graphics. Her latest works were showcased at the booth of ISA Art & Design. A British-based artist of Balinese descendant with a cosmopolitan upbringing, she brought a fresh modernist, art-deco approach to a fair deeply steeped in symbolism with new paintings from her “Kiss” and “Gelato” series. Displayed together, the two series created an energy of dialogue between her paintings. Minimalism meets irony in Sinta Tantra’s work—a specific combination which is quite original in the region.
Naima Morelli is an art writer and curator with a focus on contemporary art from the Asia Pacific region. She has written for ArtsHub, Art Monthly Australia, Art to Part of Culture and Escape Magazine, among others, and she is the author of “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia, un’introduzione” a book focused on the development of contemporary art in Indonesia. As a curator, her practice revolves around creating meaningful connections between Asia, Europe and Australia.