Why Indonesian Artists are Hot Property – artmarketblog.com

Ngaso Why Indonesian Artists are Hot Property   artmarketblog.comMy previous post revealed some recent auction results that suggest that the market for the work of some of Indonesia’s top artists is gaining strength.  One of the factors that has contributed to the strength and resilence of the market for Indonesian art is the existence of a cross cultural dialogue between east and west that is due to the Dutch colonisation of Indonesia that ended in 1942.  This dialogue is not limited to the influence of Eestern art on Indonesian artists; many Western born artists such as Walter Spies, Theo Meier, Le Mayeur de Merprès and Hofker spent time in Indonesia and produced work that was heavily influenced by Indonesian society and culture.  An indication of the close connection between the Netherlands and Indonesia  is the partnership between Larasati, an Indonesian auction house, and Glerum, an Amsterdam based auction house.  In 1990 Glerum  became the first Dutch auction house to organize specialist auctions of Dutch colonial and modern Indonesian art.  Their first joint sale with Larasati in 2000 resulted in a new world record W.G. Hofker when the artist’s ‘Ni Noneh’, offered by a collector in the Netherlands, sold for € 386,000.  Also achieving a high price was a work by Hendra Gunawan titled ‘Fruit Seller’ which soared past the Rp 180 – 240 million estimate for a final price of Rp 550 million.

Although the frequency of high prices has not reached 2008 levels, the prices being achieved for the work of many Indonesian artists have, importantly, not gone down – and in some cases, have continued to increase. 2011 proved one of the best years for Indonesian art since 2008 with many new auction records set.  An example of the demand for works by Indonesian artists was Christie’s November 27 Asian 20th Century Art (Day Sale) in Hong Kong which saw some excellent prices achieved for works by Indonesian artists.  The seventh highest price of the sale went to S. Sudjojono’s ‘Ngaso’ which blitzed the 800,000 – 1,200,000 HKD (102,612 – 153,919 USD) estimate for a final price of 3,860,000 HKD (495,106 USD). Hendra Gunawan’s ‘Bathing by the river’ achieved the tenth highest price of the sale with a final price of 3,620,000 HKD (464,322 USD) against an estimate of 700,000 – 1,000,000 HKD (89,786 – 128,265 USD).

Christie’s November 26 Asian 20th Century Art (Evening Sale) in Hong Kong again produced some stellar results for Indonesian art.  Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprés’ ‘Three dancers in the garden ‘ produced the fifth highest auction price for the artist selling for 7,940,000 HKD (1,018,431 USD) against an estimate of 2,700,000 – 3,700,000 HKD (346,318 – 474,584 USD).  ‘Barong dance’ by Indonesian born artist Affandi achieved 4,220,000 HKD (541,282 USD) against an estimate of 1,800,000 – 2,500,000 HKD (230,878 – 320,664 USD) – the second highest price for the artist at auction.

Although the market for Indonesian art centres around the work of more established artists, there is still considerable interest in younger contemporary Indonesian artists.  A retrospective exhibition of the work of contemporary Indonesian artist Heri Donow was held at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam in 2009 and represented an important recognition of the global relevance of contemporary Indonesian art.  According to the Tropenmuseum: “Dono can truly be called a glocal artist: a term which contracts the words local and global. The story of his images is about the changing face of Indonesian society that is not separate from developments in the rest of the world. This story is meant for a broad audience; though it is coded (criticizing politicians has long been a dangerous activity), it recognizable and accessible. Glocal art shows how local sources can still nourish artists in a time of globalization to say something about the world around them. Dono dislikes the distinction between high art and low art. He never literally copies traditional art; he plays with the image material in a personal style influenced by various European artists such as Matisse and Picasso, and artistic trends such as Cobra, nouveau réalisme and fluxus.”

Overall, the high auction prices being achieved for Indonesian artists combined with the significant number of works by Indonesian artists that frequently exceed the auction estimate suggests that works by such artists are currently undervalued.  As Asian buyers continue to become more wealthy and more interested in collecting art, and Western buyers continue to search for undervalued and untapped sources of “new” art, the work of Indonesian artists is likely to only become more popular.


‘Ngaso’ by S. SUDJOJONO
(Indonesian, 1914-1986)

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.comt Why Indonesian Artists are Hot Property   artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.


Description         S. SUDJOJONO

(Indonesian, 1914-1986)


signed ‘S. Sudjojono’ (lower right); signed with artist’s monogram, titled and dated ‘Ngaso 1964′ (lower centre)

oil on canvas

140 x 100 cm. (55 1/8 x 9 3/8 in.)

Painted in 1964

Medium               oil on canvas

Year of Work      1964

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  • http://www.circularknittingneedles.org/ Denise the Knitting Girl

    True Indonesia is in a unique position culturally, and the artists that they are producing is simply fantastic.

    • Uvisitbali

      But most of the lower art is grossly overpriced, based on currupt investors laundering funds, its not a true art market here yet sadly. To many artist painting to fast with no good training.

  • http://www.carlospereira.de/ Carlospereirapfpm

    nice website, i will revisit CARLOS

  • Bijls122

    Does anyone know an indonesian artist called Kustawi or Koestawi?
    It’s wonderfull work but i haven’t seen anything of him before.

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