Nuansa Indonesia artists at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta (1988)

Astri Wright
artdesigncafé - art | 28 January 2012
This article was previously published in two parts in the Jakarta Post: (Part I:) "Nuansa Indonesia moves towards professionalism" on 30 November 1998, p. 6; and (Part II:) "Nuansa Indonesia enriches local art scene" on 1 December 1988, p. 6.

At this year’s Nuansa Indonesia exhibition, the group’s third one, nine artists are participating. They are exhibiting their work at the Old Gallery at Taman Ismail Marzuki daily until Nov. 30. This exhibition is substantially smaller than last year’s, when 28 artists participated; furthermore, two new faces are introduced into the group this year.

"Our aim is to have a large exhibition like the one last year every two years", says Farida Srihadi, one of the major forces behind the founding of the group. "This year we wanted to have a smaller show, with a more select group of people who have proved that they are seriously and actively pursuing their professions as artists; that they will not just depend on Nuansa as a forum in which to exhibit their work."

"Professional" is a central term in the discussion about Nuansa Indonesia, both in Farida’s speech as well as in the catalog. This does not mean professional in the monetary sense. Very few artists in Indonesia can live off doing fine arts alone— a situation not unique to Indonesia, but typical of the West as well. No, "professional" in the sense used by Nuansa Indonesia means "serious" and "dedicated"— a completeness in attitude which has little to do with the actual number of hours each of the artists can afford to put into creative work. The terms "part-time" or "full-time" according to many of the members, are not so relevant, and hard to define— for such a large part of the creative process takes part in invisible strata of the mind, drawing on the totality of life-experience and aspects of personality, not only during the hours spent actually working on the artwork. The main thing is that one’s preoccupation with continuing to develop all facets of that creative process does not waver or weaken. The old notion that "one has to be riveted with the need to create" to become an artist echoes through opinions shared over a glass of tea.

"Professional" is also a term that could be used to describe the catalog. With a thought-provoking essay on the long history of the importance of women’s creativity in the development of culture by Saneto Yuliman, after the formal greetings by the head of the Jakarta Arts Council and the Minister of Women’s Affairs, each artist is fully introduced with resumes, citations of reviews of their past work, and— most interestingly— a few sentences from each, describing what creating art means personally to them.

Several of the artists are familiar from exhibitions earlier this fall. Sculptor Dolorosa Sinaga, ceramicist Hildawati [Soemantri] Siddharta, and painter Farida Srihadi were all represented at the Jakarta Art Institute’s Faculty and Alumni exhibit last month; in September, all three, and the Nuansa painter Wiranti Tedjasukmana, also participated in the Group 9 show. This is an extremely heavy exhibition schedule for any artist to have, and the fact that they all showed at least some new work is significant.