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Art Jakarta Courtesy of Art Jakarta

The eleventh edition of Art Jakarta, which closed on Sunday, had all the trappings of a debut fair: new leadership, a new venue, 40 of its 70 galleries from around Asia Pacific participating for the first time, and the phalanx of curious fresh faces from around the region and the world. “Indonesia is a strategic location, as the regions most populous country; like it or not, it is always important,” says the fairs artistic director Enin Supriyanto.

A Jakarta-based curator, Supriyanto joined the fair about a year ago alongside new director Tom Tandio, a well-connected collector and businessman, and the two have overseen the fairs move from the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta to the Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC) Senayan. First established as Bazaar Art Jakarta by the media company MRA, the fair was renamed in 2017. Its new venue is key as the JCC is one of three locations in the city with a bonded customs clearance, so Supriyanto says: “Customs were handled right here. Its all official and standardised, and that is critical.”

Supriyanto is keen to point out that Indonesia has seen two decades of stable economic growth, hovering just above 5% annually. Under the new president Joko Widodo, “the current government is building more infrastructure, and hopefully will build upon that, beyond the MTR to things like new ports, giving remote islands sea connections, and more highways", Supriyanto says. A proposed moving of the archipelago nations capital from congested Jakarta in 2024 is expected to have little impact on the citys economy, and the unrest caused by West Papuas ongoing independence movement has little impact on the central island of Java.

Art Jakartas expansion came at a fortuitous time, its rebranded form rising phoenix-like from the 2017 cancellation of Art Stage Jakarta, after just two years, and this January the eleventh-hour cancellation of what would have been the tenth instalment of Art Stage Singapore. A new fair, Art SG, backed by Tim Etchells, Sandy Angus and Magnus Renfrew, has also pushed back its scheduled debut from this November to 2020, ostensibly because exhibitors requested more preparation time; but many in Singapore say the Art Stage implosion left galleries skittish about the city-states art fair climate. S.E.A. Focus, a small regional platform hosted at Singaporean gallery district Gillman Barracks and backed by local gallery STPI, meanwhile launched successfully this January.

The cancelled Art Stage had dwindled to 35 participating galleries, so the expanded Art Jakarta could already claim to be the largest fair in Southeast Asia, perhaps even the flagship event for the Nusantara region encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Art Jakarta this year attracted a number of participants from East Asia, which traditionally has limited interaction with the Southeast Asian art world. Dealers and collectors from Mainland China were particularly thick on the ground, only in part because of a show by the mainland artist Xu Bing opening concurrently at Jakartas Museum Macan. Many said they were visiting Indonesia for the first time out of curiosity about the fair. For dealers around East Asia, Indonesia presents at best a natural new area for growth, and at worst a neutral environment given trade tensions between Japan and South Korea plus political animosity between the Mainland and Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We started to work with two Southeast Asian artists [Thailands Mit Jai Inn and Burmas Sawangwongse Yawnghwe] last year,” says Megan Yu-hua Lan, the assistant to the director of Taipeis TKG+ Gallery, which was showing in Jakarta for the first time. “We wanted to be more international, Read More – Source