Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
It would be pretty outdated to post a visit to the Art1 Museum in 2015, but I feel this museum needs more recognition. Located in an area far from artsy or any tourism attraction, Kemayoran–the area of Indonesia’s first commercial international airport, it would take some effort to get to the museum.
I first knew about this museum from Mega, a friend who happens to have a keen eye for visually nice things. She spotted the Art:1 Museum as part of the GAC—Gamal Audrey Cantika, an Indonesian musical trio—music video. It caught our attention because there’s not a lot of Indonesian musicians that choose to have their video in an art museum, especially considering the restrictions of showing art in media, but GAC made it happen. Draped in black and white ensemble, they utilized some spots of the museum while singing their song ‘Bahagia’, translated to ‘Happy’.
Like most galleries, a part of the museum is free for people to see the exhibits on display. There are two floors for the rotating exhibitions. I can’t recall whose work I saw that day on these floors, but I remember two pieces from the same artist. It was a painting of splashing colors with gulps of paint building texture. It displayed well with the minimalist white interior. Considering I still remember the paintings two years later, it pretty much says that they spoke to me. But I’m sure they’ve changed the exhibition many times since my last visit in 2015.
On the top floor of the gallery is an area that displays work of prominent Indonesian artists. I was impressed by Heri Dono, one of Indonesian painters. I particularly like his ‘on-high’ paintings, possibly like the results of magic mushrooms. There were a lot of cool art on this island, but I only recall his. Stepping out to the balcony of this floor, we can access a beautiful part of the building and have a view to the rest of Jakarta.
Another section of Art:1 Museum is a real museum. One needs to pay a relatively pricey admission fare—IDR 75,000 (2015)– to enter and see the more special collections. I didn’t know much of the painters but I do remember some old sketches from the colonial days and pictures of topless Balinese women. I can’t recall the dates of these paintings but I remember them being very old and associating it from the era where blouses weren’t part of their culture. This area had a different type of rooms to that in the gallery, it was a tad darker somehow, but it helped us focus on the artwork more.
Part of their collection was one of the Beetle VW that was made into a ball. Ichwan Noor, an Indonesian artist, took five real 1953 VW’s and sculptured it into balls; one of them displayed here. It’s something that would take time just to figure out how it was made, and eventually be admired by how adorable it is.
Not only that the art inside is something to see, the building and installation outside is also artsy. Parts of the building were built with art installations by some prominent artists. Sunaryo, an Indonesian artist who also has his own gallery, has a huge stagger installation right at the entrance of the building. It’s hard to miss and possibly one of the most photographed with its contrasting red.
The building itself has a unique shape, with several instagramable spots. With dominating white walls, it gives that perfect pale nuance and matches anything you wear. A very now kinda thing. Also, probably because it’s a gallery and museum, the lighting of the room is quite nice for pictures.
On a side note, the GAC music video was in the context of showcasing the singers and not the art behind them. But, bumping into Gamal at one time, and appreciating their idea of setting, he did inform me that the gallery had received an increase numbers of visitors, many in black and white clothing and taking many pictures with the art work. Whether they were appreciating the art, he doesn’t know. It does intrigue me whether this was something good or a bad.
I do remember doing the same, taking pictures in front of the art work, coincidently in a white shirt, which kinda made me question why I did it. When we appreciate an art piece, shouldn’t we make it the star? In a photo, shouldn’t the art piece be the star of a photo and not us? Even if we were there, shouldn’t we at least be seen appreciating it? Well, unless there’s the context of showing the size of the art. Well, maybe you (and others that took photos with the art) wanted to show people that you liked the art. Maybe you want people to know the good taste you have in art. Maybe it’s a ‘been there, seen it’ kinda thing.
However, I do like the fact that more people are visiting museums, no matter what their motives are. In a country where art is underappreciated, just having more people there Just having them there and seeing the place is already a good thing. I hope this continued till today. And it’s heart-warming to know there are more beautiful art spaces in Jakarta, and Indonesia for that matter, as an appreciation of the art that is exhibited in the show area. Considering it has been two years, maybe I’ll pop by the Art1 Museum sometime in the near future.
Jl. Rajawali Selatan Raya No. 3, RT.4/RW.6
Gn. Sahari Utara, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat,
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10720