When we think of a medium, we usually look to a physic to tell us what to expect in our lives. Of course, we would all like to know the future but when it comes to art, is there a medium to guide us? Art is never an easy analysis like stock or bond might be. We don’t have a definitive resource to guide us, and art is all about taste so it’s very subjective. So, how can we look at the trends to lead us to the artists and the artworks to collect in the 21st century?
One source to consider is an art biennale, which is a large-scale contemporary art exhibit that takes place every two years. A biennale is a non-commercial forum for artists and curators to come together, to create a star-studded show of diversity in art. There are over 100 biennales worldwide, and the year 2017 has been the period that boasts such great events, from Venice Biennale, which is dubbed the most acclaimed in the world, to Indonesia’s capital as the home of Jakarta Biennale.
Taking place at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in 1968 for the first time, Jakarta Biennale was primarily held as a painting exhibition. Yet, over the past few years it has evolved into an event showcasing various forms of artworks, such as multimedia, installation, performance and photography, among others. In fact, paintings and sculptures seem a bit “old fashioned”.
Looking back at the biennales and exhibitions over the past years, there is obvious pattern, a shift in the medium of art. Considering some of the most sought after Indonesian artists, it is not the painters but those artists who experiment with new techniques and ideas.
The following are my top picks of Indonesian artists who have become stand-outs; not only because of their impressive repertoires but also due to the progressive changes they’ve made for the nation’s art scene. These artists are set for contributing their expertise in new media art in the year 2018.
Tromarama is an artist collective consisting of the alumni of Bandung, Indonesian Art Institute, they are Febie Babyrose, Ruddy Hatumena and Herbert Hans. They experiment with digital technology and animation, producing thought provoking videos of everyday objects of contemporary urban culture.
This artist collective has been at the forefront of new media art in Indonesia for several years. Their work covers many disciplines, combining stop-motion animation, photography, lenticular prints, moving images and installation art.
In 2017, Tromarama has had two important solo exhibitions: the first event, titled “Panoramix”, was held at Edouard Malingue Gallery in Hong Kong; while the second one, titled “Amphibia”, took place at Centre A in Vancouver, Canada.
“Amphibia” is a play on words, like an amphibian that can live on land and in water. Through the video and other installations, Tromaroma examines issues that relate to humans – we are a living being, but at the same time our daily routine is attached with technology. Living our lives through social media and artificial intelligence is a fact that has raised a question, “Will we reach a point where humans and technology become one? Showcasing this conceptualisation of life in the 21st century through video, animation and other forms of new media is what propels Tromarama to an international stage.
For Aditya Novali, the year 2017 was an impressive period, as he was voted the Best Young Artist at Art Stage Jakarta’s first art award event. He was also featured in the Discoveries section of Art Basel Hong Kong with a sold-out show by Roh Gallery.
With background in architecture and product design, Aditya’s approaches in creating his work is like a mathematical equation; thoughtful and methodical. He has experimented with various mediums over the years, from rotating artworks debuting at the Prudential Art Awards to his most recent works using acrylic and Plexiglas as his canvas. His approaches and art backwards are what lead him to come up with an idea, and then find the medium to express that idea.
At his most recent show at Roh Gallery, he uses acrylic and Plexiglas that he manipulates with scratches, acrylic, as well as other materials and mediums to create shadows and light. Using acrylic as the base, these geometric lines create a new abstraction, playing on the unique shadows that by itself becomes one with the artwork. This process gives his artwork both literal and figurative meaning towards transparency.
Albert Yonathan is a tri-disciplined artist using ceramic as his canvas combined with conceptual and performance elements. Albert studied his ceramic techniques in Kyoto and is currently pursuing his PhD in contemporary ceramic art. Residing in Kyoto, he takes inspiration from the concepts of spirituality and reality. His process uses hand moulded ceramics arranged in a repetitive pattern, referencing rituals or his own personal mandalas. Like Yayoi Kusama, you could say Albert is obsessive-compulsive, his artworks become a process and a form of meditation for him to go deeper into himself to discover the sublime and spiritual realm of our existence.
Albert was included in the Indonesian Pavilion for the 2013 Venice Biennale, and most recently in the “Sunshowers” show at the Mori Art Museum to commemorate the 50 years anniversary of ASEAN as well as a solo show at POLA Ginza.
It’s an education process to collect new media art, and many collectors wonder how to display it. Indeed, it makes for a more interesting environment to have installation pieces like Albert Yohathan or Aditya Novali’s work in a home or office. How you display video art is the new trend of showing video in public spaces, like an office lobby that creates engagement between the public and art. We don’t need a medium to tell us the future for new media art, it’s here to stay and undoubtedly these three artists are the forerunners in the Indonesian art scene.