Night Fever

Left: Art Stage Jakarta director Leo Silitonga and collector Caecil Papadimitriou. Right: Collector Alex Tedja and Art Stage's Lorenzo Rudolf. (All photos: Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva)

“I PREFER SEEING PRIVATE COLLECTIONS TO MUSEUMS,” said collector Wiyu Wahono. “They are like an enigma to decipher.” We were at a dinner at the home of another collector, Prasodjo Winarko, on the eve of the opening of Art Stage Jakarta, and Wahono’s opinion didn’t seem entirely unpopular, if only for the reason that visitors to his collection earlier that day were still in awe. The inaugural edition of the export of the Singaporean fair promised to be cheerful despite the city’s crippling traffic. “Hands down, they win!” muttered Singapore-based Filipino collector Lourdes Samson, comparing the challenge of navigating Jakarta with that of Manila.

Back at the Sheraton, the hotel’s owner, Alex Tedja, and collector Deddy Kusuma were warming up their voices to a live band in preparation for the next evening’s karaoke opening. Apparently many Indonesian high society gents practice weekly. At the back of the lounge, in a typically Indonesian cloud of clove-scented smoke, artist Agus Suwage, collector Dato M. Noor Azman, and curator Enin Supriyanto drank iced teas and beers. They were soon joined by a happy Jun Tirtadji, back from his gallery ROH Projects, where he had opened an exhibition in collaboration with Silverlens Galleries. Artist Jay Yao and collector Carlo Calma walked by holding a champagne flute: “This is my vacation!” It felt festive indeed.

Left: Collector Deddy Kusuma in his house. Right: Writer Lisa Movius; Mariles Gustilo, director of Ayala Museum; and Ute Meta Bauer, director of NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore.

The next day, Lorenzo and Maria Elena Rudolf, president and vice president of the fair, made a glam stop at collector Tom Tandio’s lunch with Yue Minjun. They were followed by former fair director of Bazaar Art Jakarta, now Art Stage Jakarta director, Leo Silitonga, donning a South Sulawesi ikat. “Maria Elena wanted all of us to wear something Indonesian,” he justified. The fair opened to exuberant crowds wondering what’s up with the two fairs in Jakarta this month (the eighth Bazaar Art opens this week), but heartedly welcoming the opportunity to mingle. “We are all friends,” I heard again and again, until I almost believed it. Art Stage gathers forty-nine galleries alongside a lavishly set presentation by the painter Affandi and a separate exhibition, the Collectors Show, featuring works from the collections of Rudy Akili, Deddy Kusuma, Melani Setiawan, Tom Tandio, Alex Tedja, and Wiyu Wahono in a bare shell floor of the hotel. “I got the roughest space to show the most expensive art,” joked Supriyanto. The fair provided plenty of socializing grounds, if not always the most groundbreaking works.

That evening, the opening party had collectors singing the Bee Gees poolside. “Never heard of them,” quipped a young millennial. “But it’s clear who the target audience is here.” The Platters’ “Only You” followed, and then some Temptations. Rudolf and gang did an earnest rendition of “Baila Morena.” “Can you imagine other fairs’ big players doing something like this?” I was asked. I could not, but it surely made me grin. Points for not taking yourselves too seriously, Art Stage.

After Heri Dono’s performance, I heard that collector Rudy Akili rapped, but I was already on my way to the young collectors’ party at the restaurant Sofia at the upscale Gunawarman Hotel. “You’ll see. Inside, you will feel like you’re in Budapest,” I was told by Tom Tandio as I set off with collector Natasha Sidharta, writer and filmmaker Patricia Chen, and a merry bunch including artists Dito Yuwono and Melati Suryodarmo and curator Mira Asriningtyas.

Left: Dealers Joseph Ng and Pearl Lam. Right: Photographer and collector Indra Leonardi, artist Yue Minjun, and collectors Lily Sajoto and Dr. Oei Hong Djien.

Saturday, I joined Mariles Gustilo, director of Manila’s private Ayala Museum, for a collections visit. We toured Akili’s space, where we were greeted by his adviser, Alia Swastika. At the fair I spotted collector Daisuke Miyatsu, curator Rifky Effendy, and artist FX Harsono, and caught up with the shy and usually studio-bound Eddy Susanto to talk about his painstaking canvases of historical narratives. That evening we stopped at Alex Tedja’s palatial house and were treated to a blue-chip wonderland. “I wish I had ceilings that high in my museum,” complimented Gustilo. We moved next door for what I had anticipated as a fun party at Deddy Kusuma’s, but after some customary singalong—“Imagine all the people…”—it turned into a midnight lecture on Indonesian art transmitted via multiple screens from the main stage to all the courtyards.

Eventually we escaped to join a group at Hide & Seek Swillhouse consisting of young Bandung and Jogja artists including Alin, Keni, Hahan, Titarubi, Zico, Wimo Ambala Bayang, Faisal Habibi, Agan Harahap, and Ruang Gerilya’s Wibi Rizqi Triadi. At last: dancing! A pleased Silitonga explained that the fair benefited from the recent government-issued tax amnesty that encouraged rich Indonesians to repatriate money home. “It went far beyond our expectations,” he said. I am constantly told the Indonesian art scene needs more international interest, but it certainly helps if the locals lead by example.

Left: Artist Heri Dono. Right: Lisson gallery's David Tung.

Left: Adviser Pablo Espinel R. with artists Agan Harahap, Zico (Muhammad Zico Albaiquni), and Wimo Ambala Bayang. Right: Artist Agus Suwage.

Left: Artist and dealer Hideaki Yamamoto. Right: Artist Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, Art Basel's Amalia Wirjono, artist and curator Gary-Ross Pastrana, and artist Aditya Novali.

Left: Artist Eddy Susanto. Right: Artist Shinnosuke Tojo with dealers Hideyuki Nishieda and Fumiyuki Shimokado.

Left: Artists Hahan (Uji Hahan Handoko) and Titarubi. Right: Artists Alin (Aliansyah Caniago) and Keni (Cinanti Astria Johansjah).

Left: Collector and artist Carlo Calma and artist Jay Yao. Right: British Council's Diaz Parzada, artist Jimmy Ong, collector Melani Setiawan, and dealer Stephanie Fong.

Left: Collector Wiyu Wahono and dealer Suprajitno Sutomo. Right: Artists Dito Yuwono and Melati Suryodarmo with curator Mira Asriningtyas.

Left: Dealer Audrey Yeo. Right: Dealer Esti Nurjadin with collectors Susan Santoso, Tom Tandio, and Hady Ang.

Left: Dealer Hidenori Ota. Right: Dealer Irawan Hadikusumo with artists Ronald Manullang and Agan Harahap.

Left: Dealers Edwin and Listia Rahardjo with collectors Prasodjo Winarko and Natasha Sidharta. Right: Collectors Ryan Su and Adrian Chan.

Left: Collector Rudy Akili and curator Alia Swastika at the Akili's collection. Right: Curator Rifky Effendy and artist FX Harsono.