The works of Indonesian artist Anton Subiyanto touch on the Javanese life philosophy of tepo seliro, which upholds the values of tolerance, respect for others, and empathy.
text by Ricky Francisco
text by Ricky Francisco
When the regional Southeast Asian art auctions started in the 1990s, the top selling artworks were paintings by Indonesian, Philippine and Vietnamese artists, represented by Raden Saleh Bustaman, Affandi, Hendra Gunawan and other Indonesian Moderns; Amorsolo and the Philippine Moderns, led by Kiukok, Manansala, and Zobel; and Le Pho respectively. In the 2000s, when contemporary art gained momentum, top sales often went to Indonesian artists like I Nyoman Masriadi, Christine Ay Tjoe, Eko Nugroho, and Rudi Mantofani, with Philippine artists following suit. Only with the increased entry of contemporary Philippine artists’ works – such as those by Geraldine Javier, Rodel Tapaya, Andres Barrioquinto, and Jon Jaylo, among others – did Philippine contemporary art begin to gain a foothold in the auction scene, which is arguably the most accessible platform by which people from other countries and regions are introduced to art.
With the 2011 record-breaking work “Greyground” by Ronald Ventura, Philippine art took centerstage, at least in the auction scene, with Indonesian art still holding prominence and recall. But why does Indonesian and Philippine art hold sway in the region? Aside from having a wide base of art patron-collectors from their respective countries, Western painting and the visual arts had taken root early in Indonesia and the Philippines, with both having a long history of colonization and a succession of authoritarian governments. This historical context has proven to be fertile
ground for art to flourish in both countries.
Yet despite our similarities, we have not seen a lot of Indonesian art in our country, aside from the occassional regional artist group shows by the now-closed Manila Contemporary and the ongoing projects of Project Space Pilipinas, 98B, Green Papaya, and similar artist-run initiatives. Filipino collectors have often limited their collections to local artists, which gallery owners attribute to being nationalistic on one hand, and being parochial on the other.
This is the context wherein a local art gallery, Galerie Stephanie, has taken the risk of exhibiting the works of Indonesian contemporary visual artist Anton Subiyanto—grand prize winner of the prestigious United Overseas Bank (UOB) Painting of the Year competition for Indonesia and Southeast Asia in 2014. With his work titled “Old Stock, Fresh Menu,” Subiyanto bested artist competitors from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. His work depicted a figure in a wok over a fire, being cooked with easily identifiable consumer products. It was rendered in his style of intricate graphite and acrylic on canvas drawings, tinted with bright color washes, and overlaid with a second narrative, drawn in gold ink. The judges were impressed with his “ability to convey a somber message in a playful way.” This is something Filipino audiences are familiar with, as humor has always been a coping mechanism for everything, from awkwardness to fear.
Read the full article inside Art+ Magazine issue 39