A New Place for Art to Thrive in Jakarta
Contemporary artists are prepared to welcome a new space to display their work right in the heart of Jakarta.
Gallery Rachel, which is located on Jl. MH Thamrin at UOB Plaza in Central Jakarta, will officially open on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Guests can feast their eyes on around 40 paintings from 35 Indonesian painters, with the lineup including Erwin Windu Pranata, Triady Guntur Wiratamo, Dodit Artawan, Agus Sumiantara, Ritchie Ned Hensel, Ketut Moniarta and Gede Mahendra Yasa.
According to gallery director Laksamana Roy Tirtadji Jr., Gallery Rachel not only aims to exhibit contemporary artists, but also to put Indonesia on the global map of art by planning to join international art festivals and invite foreign artists to exhibit their works in Jakarta.
Laksamana said Gallery Rachel planned to work with art communities in Indonesia and strengthen their network.
“We hope we will reach a ratio of 70/30 between local and foreign artists,” he said.
Independent curator Asmudjo Jono Irianto, who is also a professor of arts at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), said commercial galleries such as Gallery Rachel were the true drivers of art in Indonesia, while museums failed to boost local art movements.
Commercial “galleries hold an important role, because our museums are lacking infrastructure and financial support,” he said.
Asmudjo admitted that modern art is not well established in Indonesia. Outside Java and Bali, artists are likely to begin creating art at workshops, which usually takes place in warehouses and end up selling their works in art and craft markets.
“This is not a bad thing, but those workshops cannot get them into the mainstream of world contemporary art,” he said.
Asmudjo said commercial galleries may be able to improve this situation and give artists the recognition they need. After all, what an artist needs the most is feedback in any form — be it from a buyer, a critic or simply by sparking a discussion. He said he thought this would lend the Indonesian art world the dynamic environment it needed to prosper.
As a teacher, Asmudjo said he was glad to have another space for art.
“It means my students will have more options to display their work,” he said. Asmudjo added that even though there were only three art schools in Indonesia, two in Java and one in Bali, tens of students graduate every year, so they need as much space as possible.
Gallery Rachel is designed by Indonesian architect Joe Willendra, a former employee of NMDA, a Los Angeles-based design and architecture company. When he designed the gallery, he made sure it did not turn out like art galleries in the malls, where people can see all of the artwork without getting inside.
“I made a tunnel-like entrance to invite people’s curiosity,” he said.
Joe said the white-dominated Gallery Rachel is ready to host any art installations, from paintings to video projections.
Laksamana said he wanted the gallery to stimulate discourse in the Indonesian art scene and get more people appreciating art.
“We keep telling people they don’t need to be experienced to come and enjoy the art,” he said. Staff knowledgeable about art will be on hand to help visitors, especially youngsters, understand art.