The Importance of Indonesia’s Art Patrons

This is an article by Djuli Djatiprambudi about the import role of Indonesia’s generous art patrons which I translated from Indonesian to English. The original article in Indonesian is at the bottom of this post

Indonesian Art Minus It’s Patrons

Dr. Oei in an interview with leading Collectors of Asian Art, sitting in front of a magnificent painting by Hendra Gunawan, one of the leading modern artists of Indonesia. Image copyright © 2012 Patricia Chen. All rights reserved.

With the death of former President Sukarno in 1970, the Indonesian art world fell into a period of mourning. This grief was not only caused by the fact that Sukarno was a collector of art, but because he was a great patron and supporter of the Indonesian arts.

As a patron and supporter of Indonesian art throughout his life, Sukarno played an instrumental role in nurturing the development of Indonesian art as well as public art. Not only did he provide financial support through the purchasing works, but he also promoted national pride in Indonesia’s pool of creative talent through the commissioning of public art and sculpture and through the creation of prestigious art institutions such as the Museum of Fine Art.

Sukarno’s role as a patron of Indonesian has been historically documented by a wide variety of Indonesian academics. Research conducted by Mikke Susanto (2014) to be published in a book called Bung Karno tells the story of Sukarno’s significant contribution to Indonesian art. As Mikke explains in the publication, Sukarno supported the arts by exaulting the place of art in society. He also participated in the arts community, supporting exhibitions, engaged in dialogues with artists at the Presidential Palace, regularly visited the studios of artists and also published a book about Indonesian visual art.

Susanto’s research also sows the ways in which Soekarno’s sense of aesthetics and support of art can be seen in the development of Indonesia’s architecture at the time, with sculpture playing a central role in the planning of Jakarta as a city upon independence.

Research by Mikke and his contemporaries shows the importance of patronage and support of the arts in Indonesia. Research by the author of this article titled Arts and Works also confirms Sukarno’s integral role in elevating the prominence of Indonesian art. Not only did Sukarno support the arts, but he promoted it in ways that saw Indonesian art utilised and incorporated into nationalist which helped to firm indonesian national identity. Sukarno  also persuasively articulated the importance of Indonesian to international guests, and account of presentation of the works in the Presidential Palace by him are referred to as “mesmerising”.

So when Sukarno died, Indonesia lost its most dedicated arts patron. The art world post Sukarno of course continued to develop, but the socio-historical relationship between art and society has since changed. The reciprocal relationship between artist and patron is also a story which has been rarely heard of in Indonesia, and Indonesian artists are no longer recorded in the history books as significant contributors to the nation’s development.

Sukarno has not been the only patron of the arts in Indonesian however. Prominent collectors with who Sukarno also associated with and who share an equal passion for the arts include Adam Malik , Oei Hong Djien , Ciputra , Jusuf Wanandi, Raka Sumichan , Deddy Kusuma, Rudy Akili , Sunarjo Sampoerna , Tossin Hima, Budi Setiadharma , Gunarsa , Suteja Neka , and Agung Rai . These collectors have also played a key role in the development and maintenance of art in Susanto. However it is imoprtantto note that just because one is a collector, this does not necessarily make one a patron. Conversely, the social and historical relationship of collectors and patrons to the art world differ between the two.

The motive of a collector is often only a love of the art works in their collection. Whereas with patrons, the aim is to collect works, restore them, protect them from the damage of ageing as well as disseminating information to the public about the artists in their collections and opening those collections to the public. The role as a patron as ” foster fathers” of the development of art itself through their collections make them protectors of the legacy civilisation through the arts. .

Indonesian collectors Oei Hong Djien, Suteja Neka and Agung Rai, are examples of incredibly dedicated patrons of Indonesian art. Through the Museum of art they have built an incredible public gallery showing the contributions of Indonesia’s great artists to the world of art. Through the museum, the development of Indonesian art history can be easily tracked because it holds important  artifacts of Indonesian art and maintains their documentation. The collection is also open to the public. Because of this, these collectors actually truly deserve the honour of the prestigious title of patron of the arts.

Although these men are not as prominent or powerful as Sukarno, if they were not around and did not support Indonesian art in the way they do, we would not have access to the great collections as we do now, and Indonesian art would face a very serious crisis. Presently, Indonesian art is only be preserved through the dedication of its patrons.

In other words , it is impossible that Indonesian art could have developed in the way it has without its’ patrons. As we can see from the Western history of art in history, behind the preservation and the story of art lie its’ patrons. Their role is essential in determining the preservation of the continuity of history and social development as presented through the arts.

Therefore , when we consider the position of Indonesian art today and it’s rise in the context of Asian and Global Art, we cannot underestimate the role of its’ dedicated and passionate patrons.

Djuli  Djatiprambudi is a researcher & lecturer at the  Faculty of Art at Unesa, Surabaya.

The OHD Museum of Modern art is located in Magelang in Central Java in Indonesia. For more information see their website http://ohdmuseum.com/ 


SENI RUPA INDONESIA MINUS PATRON

Oleh Djuli Djatiprambudi

KETIKA mantan Presiden Soekarno wafat pada 1970, dunia seni rupa Indonesia ikut berduka sangat mendalam. Kedukaan itu tidak lain karena Soekarno dikenal sebagai kolektor seni rupa yang berwibawa. Lebih dari sekadar kolektor, Soekarno merupakan sosok patron seni rupa Indonesia.

Sebagai seorang patron dalam konteks sejarah seni rupa Indonesia, berarti mengacu pada dukungan seorang presiden yang diberikan kepada pelukis dan pematung. Dukungan itu tidak hanya berupa dukungan finansial dengan membeli karya-karya seniman Indonesia, tetapi lebih dari itu, yaitu dukungan moral, spirit berkarya, hingga kebanggaan nasional. Bahkan juga sebagai pelindung seni rupa yang militan dengan menempatkan karya seni rupa di tempat yang amat prestisius, yaitu Istana Presiden. Dengan cara itu, Istana Presiden tak ubahnya sebagai museum seni rupa.

Peran Soekarno sebagai patron seni rupa Indonesia telah menjadi fakta sejarah. Penelitian Mikke Susanto (2014) yang telah dipublikasikan menjadi buku bertajuk Bung Karno Kolektor dan Patron Seni Rupa Indonesia membuktikan peran Soekarno yang sangat signifikan dalam perkembangan seni rupa. Mikke membuktikan sejumlah fakta kepatronan Soekarno. Antara lain, membatu pembentukan organisasi seni, mengunjungi studio seniman, membuka pameran seni rupa, mengangkat pelukis istana, membeli lukisan atau patung, berdialog intensif dengan para seniman di Istana Presiden, dan menginspirasi pembuatan patung monumen. Juga menerbitkan buku koleksi seni rupa dan masih banyak lagi.

Penelitian Mikke itu tidak hanya mendukung, tetapi juga memperkuat, melengkapi, dan memperkaya penelitian Yuke Ardhiati (2005) yang berjudul Bung Karno sang Arsitek: Kajian Artistik Karya Arsitektur, Tata Ruang Kota, Interior, Kria, Simbol, Mode Busana, dan Teks Pidato 1926–1965. Penelitian itu membuktikan kekuatan sense of aesthetic Soekarno yang terepresentasikan secara visual ke dalam arsitektur, tata ruang kota, interior, kriya, simbol, busana, hingga teks pidatonya yang memukau.

Dua penelitian itu menegaskan pentingnya seorang patron hadir dalam gerak sejarah seni rupa Indonesia. Fakta tersebut juga dibuktikan dalam sejarah seni rupa di mana pun bahwa perkembangan seni rupa amat ditentukan oleh kehadiran patron, baik formal maupun nonformal. Penelitian pendahuluan yang saya lakukan –bertajuk Bung Karno: Seni Rupa dan Karya Lukisnya (2001)– juga menegaskan bahwa Soekarno tampil sebagai seorang presiden dengan ”P” besar. Artinya, Soekarno bukan hanya presiden yang memiliki tugas sebagaimana lazimnya seorang presiden dari suatu negara. Tetapi, Soekarno lebih dari itu, sebagai seorang yang tampil di depan untuk mengayomi seni rupa dengan tindakan nyata dan fenomenal.

Kisah Soekarno dengan sejumlah seniman yang sering diajak ngobrol di istana, dikunjungi studionya, dan dibantu aktivitas keseniannya memperlihatkan kecintaan serta tindakan nyata Soekarno yang total terhadap kemajuan karya seni rupa anak bangsa. Dalam posisi itulah

Soekarno benar-benar menjadi patron seni rupa yang setiap saat di berbagai agenda kenegaraan selalu mempromosikan seni rupa Indonesia, termasuk karya seni Indonesia lainnya. Soekarno dengan persuasif dan artikulatif mampu menjelaskan dengan memesona semua koleksi istana yang menjadi kebanggaannya kepada tamu-tamu negara.

Akan tetapi, sekali lagi, sejak Soekarno wafat, dunia seni rupa Indonesia seperti berhenti berdetak karena kehilangan seorang patron yang disegani. Seni rupa Indonesia pasca-Soekarno memang tetap berkembang, tetapi makna sosio-historisnya menjadi berbeda. Cerita hubungan resiprokal antara patron dan seniman (klien) nyaris tidak terdengar lagi. Cerita hubungan persahabatan seorang presiden dengan seniman tidak tercatat lagi dalam sejarah seni rupa Indonesia.

Memang sosok patron bukan hanya presiden. Seni rupa Indonesia pasca-Soekarno juga dipenuhi banyak kolektor. Di antaranya, Adam Malik, Oei Hong Djien, Ciputra, Jusuf Wanandi, Raka Sumichan, Deddy Kusuma, Rudy Akili, Sunarjo Sampoerna, Tossin Himawan, Budi Setiadharma, Nyoman Gunarsa, Suteja Neka, dan Agung Rai. Harus diakui mereka memiliki peran yang cukup signifikan dalam perkembangan seni rupa Indonesia. Namun, harus disadari, tidak setiap kolektor otomatis menjadi patron. Sebaliknya, tidak demikian. Sebab, makna sosio-historis kolektor dan patron seni rupa amat berbeda.

Seorang kolektor biasanya sekadar memiliki motif kecintaan pada karya seni. Karena itu, dia mengoleksi karya tersebut. Lain halnya dengan seorang patron. Selain mengoleksi karya seni, dia melindungi, merawat, juga menyebarluaskan informasi koleksinya dalam berbagai media dan agenda yang berskala luas serta penting. Seorang patron seakan berperan sebagai ”bapak asuh” perkembangan seni rupa itu sendiri dan menempatkan koleksinya sebagai warisan peradaban bangsa.

Kolektor semacam Oei Hong Djien, Suteja Neka, dan Agung Rai, misalnya. Museum seni rupa yang mereka bangun mengesankan upaya ideal untuk memaknai seni rupa Indonesia di tengah seni rupa dunia. Melalui museum itu, perkembangan sejarah seni rupa Indonesia menjadi mudah dilacak. Sebab, di tempat itulah berbagai artefak penting seni rupa Indonesia terdokumentasikan dengan baik. Karena itu, mereka sesungguhnya juga patron seni rupa yang patut mendapatkan tempat terhormat.

Bayangkan, sekalipun tidak sebesar Soekarno, apa jadinya andai Oei Hong Djien, Suteja Neka, dan Agung Rai tidak menempatkan diri sebagai patron seni rupa Indonesia. Maka, mudah diduga, seni rupa Indonesia akan memiliki krisis historiografis yang amat serius. Sebab, sejarah seni rupa Indonesia akan bisa ditulis dengan baik jika tersedia artefak seni rupa yang beragam, lengkap, dan terawat dengan baik.

Dengan kata lain, tidak mungkin seni rupa Indonesia berkembang dengan baik dan memiliki historiografi yang meyakinkan jika minus patron seni rupa. Seperti yang ditunjukkan dalam sejarah seni rupa Barat, semua capaian puncak yang akhirnya diakui menjadi kanon seni rupa dunia, di balik semua itu tidak lain ada peran patron yang amat menentukan keberlangsungan sejarah. Karena itu, bila seni rupa Indonesia hari ini diproyeksikan akan mengambil peran penting dalam seni rupa Asia, peran patron tidak mungkin dipandang sebelah mata. (*)

Peneliti dan pengajar seni rupa Unesa, Surabaya

 

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