Jakarta. The 10th edition of Art Jakarta, presented by Harper's Bazaar Indonesia magazine, is currently held at The Ritz-Carlton Ballroom in Pacific Place, South Jakarta.
With more than 1,000 pieces by 3,000 artists represented by 51 galleries, the art market is a prestigious meeting point for collectors, art dealers, artists and art lovers.
With tickets priced at Rp 50,000 ($3.45) each, the fair welcomes both serious buyers and people who just want to browse and see art. Entrance to the fair was free in previous years.
Ria Lirungan, deputy head of the Art Jakarta 2018 committee, said at a press conference on Thursday (02/08) that it would be understandable if there was a smaller turnout this year, as long as the quality of the fair is maintained. However, she expressed optimism that attendance would exceed expectations, because people's appreciation of art has grown over the past few years.
Only 20 of the participating galleries are based in Indonesia. They include Gajah Gallery, ROH Projects, Lawangwangi Creative Space, Gudang Gambar and Zola Zulu Gallery. However, it does not mean that most of the works on display are by foreign artists, because many Indonesian artists are represented by overseas galleries.
For example, The Columns Gallery based in Seoul brought artworks by Korean artists priced at around $220,000, but also art by Indonesian artists, such as Heri Dono, whose works range from $8,000 to $60,000.
Some galleries feature works by only one artist, such as the Tangerang-based Puri Art Gallery, with landscape paintings by I Gusti Agung Galuh, whose artworks are priced up to Rp 150 million.
Apart from the main section fair, you can also take a look at "10 for 10," which is a museum-like exhibition featuring 10 artists, to celebrate a decade of Art Jakarta. Participating artists include Heri Dono, Kemalezedine and Eddy Susanto.
Yayasan Mitra Museum Jakarta has also put carpets on display for a charity auction.
Visitors can also enjoy exhibitions of items that are not for sale, such as Art Gram, which features aesthetically composed Instagram posts from five personas, including illustrator Diela Maharanie, fashion designer Lulu Lutfi Labibi and traveler Benny Jurdi.
In the main art fair, Sotheby's is also presenting an exhibition of items not for sale, including works by designer Rinaldy Yuniardi, whose headpieces and other accessories have been worn by the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Kylie Jenner.
"I would say if you come here, two or two-and-a-half hours would be adequate to appreciate the art. The art galleries are very open. They are interested in meeting new people. They come here not only to sell, but also to interact. If you ask questions about the artists, they'll be very glad. Their mission is to promote the artists," Art Jakarta fair consultant Gil Schneider said.
He said the fair does not keep track of whether local or foreign art is more popular in terms of total transactions each year. However, SWA magazine reported that 80 percent of the artworks on sale last year were sold.
"We ask galleries about their sales. Some want to share, some want to keep it private," Schneider said.
Strong Potential, Lack of Galleries
He added that Indonesia has a "very weak gallery scene" at the moment because those local galleries participating in Art Jakarta represents more or less the sum total of all professional galleries in the country. However, he expressed hope that more galleries will be established in the future because the quantity and productivity of artists continue to increase.
"There would be room for 100 or 150 such galleries. That's why many Indonesian artists are represented by foreign galleries, because the foreign galleries have more potential to take them out and present them overseas, which is usually the job of a local gallery. So hopefully over time, we will have more professionally run galleries in Indonesia and the market will become more mature," Schneider said.
Not only the products, but the number of collectors is also growing for reasons as simple as decorating an empty wall in a new apartment. Given the number of artists and collectors, Schneider said Indonesia is the most powerful art market in Southeast Asia and the "America of Southeast Asia" in the art market.
The Art of Collecting Art
He said collecting art has been a trend among upper- and upper-middle class Indonesians since the country's independence in 1945. And as can be seen at Art Jakarta, there is a huge variety of works from which to choose.
"You really have from the very affordable, very decorative, up to the upper end, which also reflects the emerging nature of the market," he said.
However, he does not recommend buying art as an investment, because, as Business Insider reported in a 2015 article, there is no way to predict an artwork's potential long-term value.
"That's a bad idea, because art is very subjective. You buy art because you love it or you have a special relationship with the artwork. You see it every day and you take pleasure from it. This is the interest or the benefit you should have in the artwork. If you invest in art for financial reasons, I would not recommend it," he said.
He cited Chung Shang Hwa's "Untitled 87," represented by The Columns Gallery, as an example. The artwork is currently worth $320,000, which is around 10 times its value seven years ago, and five years from now, it's value could increase to between $400,000 and 450,000, yet it can also decrease in value.
However, if people insist on buying art as an investment, make sure the artist is a household name. Being an established artist is not a matter of age, Schneider said. A perfect example is 45-year-old I Nyoman Masriadi, the first living Southeast Asian artist whose work has topped $1 million at an auction.
"You have to look at how well the artist is established in the art market, how often he or she sells at big auctions, like Sotheby's and Christie's, whether they are exhibitions. If the artist has died, how many works are in museums, how many collectors are looking for this artist's work. So, it's a little bit of finding a demand," he said.
Sometimes it is not necessarily about an artist's talent, but the amount of hype surrounding them, or their collaboration with brands because, as Schneider put it, "people nowadays buy art not because they love it, but to affirm their social status."
"Of course, contemporary art and fashion these days are very fluid. You have this kind of handbag by Louis Vuitton, designed by Takashi Murakami. Is it art or a handbag? Is it both? It's probably also an investment," he added.
Another tip is pay attention to works from a special period in an artist's career.
"Let's say an Indonesian artist went to study overseas and painted five paintings, then came back. Ten years later, those five pieces will be very sought after by collectors because they're from a special period and there are very few," Schneider said.
Art Jakarta 2018 ends on Sunday.