Art Stage Jakarta, Indonesia's first boutique international art fair celebrating the country's vibrant and diverse contemporary art scene, will launch its inaugural edition from August 5-7 at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City hotel. The fair will present 50 galleries, bringing together the best of contemporary art from across Indonesia under one roof.
As the country's most exclusive art event, Art Stage Jakarta is also supported by the leading Indonesian premium lifestyle and high-society magazine Indonesia Tatler.
In the lead-up to the fair, we will feature a series of interviews with prominent Indonesian art collectors, and the inspiring stories behind their collection. The interviews are conducted by Lorenzo Rudolf, Founder and President of Art Stage Singapore, and are intended to provide an intimate insight into the world of Indonesian art. We hope you have a good read!
LORENZO RUDOLF IN CONVERSATION WITH...CIPUTRA
Ir. Ciputra is a household name in Indonesia. Listed by Forbes magazine as Indonesia's 10th richest businessman, his holdings extend from property development and span multiple industries. As a philanthropist and pioneer symbol of a true "artpreneur", he has undertaken the social responsibility of giving back to his country through entrepreneurship and education.
Mr. Ciputra also owns the biggest collection of paintings by Indonesian Modern master Hendra Gunawan. He is a member of the Art Stage Jakarta Board of Art Patrons.
LR: Mr. Ciputra, art has always been a big part of your creative vision, philanthropy blueprint, and business development. Your collection of the Indonesian Modern master artist Hendra Gunawan is known all over the region. How did your interest in art begin?
IC: I studied architecture at the Bandung Institute of Technology, where I was surrounded by many artists. By the time I finished school, I was already in love with paintings and sought to collect since then.
LR: But who introduced you to the artists, the painters?
IC: The first painting I bought was by Hendra Gunawan. At that time, no one in Indonesia thought much of art, of painting. I'm a do-er, not just a dreamer, and I've dedicated my life to realising my dreams. I saw that Indonesia had talented artists, so I built the Art Market (Pasar Seni), in Jaya Ancol (Dreamland). The artists had no guidance or infrastructure until we built the Art Market. It was a place for artists to live, work, and sell their art. Today, 200 painters still live and work there. Art is not just a hobby of mine, I also think about the ecosystem surrounding it, and the people behind the art, like Hendra Gunawan.
LR: How did you meet Hendra?
IC: I saw my first Hendra painting in a relative's house. I fell in love. I asked, "Who's the painter?" He told me, "Hendra Gunawan." I said, "OK one day, when I have money, I will buy his paintings." I had just finished school then. I'm the son of a marginal family, and we had little money. I was nothing.
But paintings were very cheap at that time, and I loved them, so I tried to collect. After that, Hendra Gunawan was imprisoned. When he was released, I had already built the Art Market. That's where we met. He was standing under a tree in the parking lot crying, and I asked him, "Why are you crying?"
He told me that when he was young, all he could do was paint, but no one wanted to buy it. He went door to door to sell his paintings, and sometimes guard dogs would attack him for trying to approach a house. He was so moved by what the Art Market was giving to artists: a community to live and work, as well as a platform to sell their art - it was more than he dreamed of when peddling his artworks in the early days. From that moment, we stayed in touch.
LR: Is that how you started collecting?
IC: Yes, we kept up a correspondence and I started buying his paintings. One day, I made a trip to Bali for business, and decided to pay Hendra a visit at his house. I looked around and asked him, "Where are all your paintings?"
He told me they were kept by the bank as a guarantee for the loan he took to build this house. He fell really sick after the house was built, and could not pay back the loan. A few days after I went back to Jakarta, he died. I was devastated.
I sent his family money to recover the 30 paintings he left in the bank, and they tried to let me buy it. But no one could put a price on them, so in the end we agreed to have an exhibition at the Art Market to put the paintings up for sale. Only a few pieces were sold, so I tried to collect the rest.
When my daughter Rina finished school, we completed the collection together, and by then prices went up. Of my children, Rina is the most passionate about art too. She takes care of the cultural aspect of the Ciputra family business, like our private museum, and creates art programmes for our hotels and malls.
LR: What was it about Hendra Gunawan that made him special?
IC: He's spontaneous. He paints from the heart. It's like he's in a trance, in his own world. (laughs) Painting is an orgasmic experience for him, it comes from the soul. Indonesia is artistically rich, it is also full of people who enjoy and support art, who are true friends of the artists. This is exactly what Indonesia should share with the world. When we have exhibitions here, we only get support from collectors, but not the government. That's why we need international expertise to build up the infrastructure here and bring in the global crowd.
LR: Your private museum is an example of how you've made it your personal mission to bring the art of Hendra to the people. Why is it important for the public to have an opportunity to see and understand his art?
IC: I built the museum to share the joy and happiness that Hendra's art gives me with the people of Indonesia. I feel a sense of responsibility to pay homage to the heritage of Hendra's art. That's the same reason why I decided to develop a shopping mall with an art programme, to create opportunities for intersecting experiences in public spaces.
It still left me thinking about the Art Market, and how to solidify economic avenues for artists to earn a living. During colonial times, the Dutch were the elite class. They enjoyed art, especially the performing arts like wayang. If you were an engineer, you were considered third class. The only way to rise up was through art, like the Indonesian Modern painter Raden Salleh, who did residencies in Europe and painted for noble houses.
LR: As one of the biggest entrepreneurs in this country, you invented this definition of the "artpreneur" - was this combination between art and entrepreneurship what you were aiming for?
IC: Yes. My book, Ciputra's Way, talks about how I tried to spread the spirit of creative entrepreneurship to the whole Indonesia. To me, entrepreneurship is not just about business, it's about creation, it's about doing something new. A man with a vision is an entrepreneur: he wants to innovate, to take risks.
My fundamental belief is that creativity is an important part of being an entrepreneur, because it pushes a person to think differently, to find new solutions. I also believe that a successful businessman should contribute to the country's creative industry, because synergy between creativity and entrepreneurship is the future of Indonesia.
As an artpreneur, you strengthen the business world through the development of creative thinking that art inspires within you, and vice versa, you help to improve the art world through the implementation of business expertise. These dual strengths, in art and entrepreneurship, are based on the same principles: be honest, committed, and trustworthy. Live by your word.
LR: Mr. Ciputra, it's been a pleasure. Thank you.
SEE YOU AT ART STAGE JAKARTA, ASIA'S NEW EXCLUSIVE BOUTIQUE ART FAIR!
Date: 5 to 7 August 2016
Venue: Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City