It was a rather gloomy start for this year’s Art Jakarta Gardens 2023, which kicked off on Tuesday, 7 February, on the grounds of Hutan Kota by Plataran. But this didn’t dampen the mood; somehow, the sight of the trickling rain, the wet pathways, and people taking in the sculptures and installations under the umbrella brought the art-viewing experience a certain charm.
For Art Jakarta Gardens’ second edition following its debut last year, the purpose is still the same: “To revive the dynamics of the art industry in Indonesia,” said artistic director, Enin Supriyanto, during the press conference. “We want to answer the pandemic situation by providing a space where artists can create in the open and not just in closed spaces.”
Spread across the Sculpture Garden, the scene revealed just that. Over 20 sculptures and installations from well-known galleries like Ruci Art Space, Linda Gallery and CAN’s Gallery framed the pathways of Hutan Kota’s outdoor area, flaunting local and international names like Fandi Angga Saputra from Yogyakarta who created a boy character figurine donning a coconut shell (“Between Coconut Tree”), to Beijing contemporary artist Zhu Wei with his faceless bronze statues (“China China No. 2”). Some of the artworks even looked like they had always been there, blending in naturally with the establishment’s lush settings against the Senayan skyline.
But there is no set rule in navigating the art fair. Some visitors began by exploring the two indoor tents first, where a spread of art pieces from 22 galleries are exhibited. At the booth of Yogyakarta-based STEM Projects, a painting by Palito Perak “The Scream (Munch)” distracts with his fresh spin on the iconic agonised face artwork by Edvard Munch. Amidst rows of canvases, there’s also the intriguing “Witnessing Pentang” by Bagus Pandega from ROH, which takes on a Balinese musical instrument of penting that is powered through electrical currents from an orchid flower.
By the exit of Tent B, a booth by financial and investment mobile app Bibit, who is also the lead partner of Art Jakarta Gardens, presented the installation “The Light of Journey” by renowned contemporary artist FX Harsono. Prompting passing visitors to take a look by giving away fortune cookies, the Bibit team highlights a 2014 work that features a standing wooden boat lit with red neon tubes, illuminating words of wisdom in both Bahasa Indonesia and Chinese characters.
This visual represents duilian, which refers to a pair of poetry lines that are usually found at the sides of doors of many Chinese families’ homes, either carved on wood or as hanging scrolls. Through the artwork, the Blitar-born artist, whose practice of art is largely focused on the theme of identity, wants to reflect the message of holding on to one’s roots and values even as one journeys on.
“When we move to a different place, we also carry with us our past experiences and cultural roots. But what usually happens is that they’ll get lost as we adjust to new surroundings,” said the artist, further pointing to the symbolism of the boat. “It’s not easy for one to truly understand their roots if they don’t practise it, but at least I hope that we know where we come from. These words are also full of good meanings, and they are universal—you can dream big but don’t forget your morals.”
Running until 12 February, Art Jakarta Gardens has provided a refreshing way for galleries and artists to tell their stories by taking the art-viewing experience in the open. This also means broadening the idea of collaborations in art, be it through CASION’s EV charging stations designed by Naufal Abshar, Karafuru, Tutugraff and Rizal Hasan, or through programmes offered on the grounds, from music workshops by Sofar Sounds Jakarta to pottery class with Kandura Studio.
This article was done in collaboration with the financial and investment mobile app, Bibit. For more information about Art Jakarta Gardens, click here.