Singapore University Gets Loans, Gifts from Indonesian Collector, Artists

SINGAPORE/LEGIAN ~ Singapore Management University (SMU) announced this week that it has received a loan of significant artworks from prominent Indonesian art collector Dr. Oei Hong Djien as well as gifts of newly created pieces by acclaimed Indonesian artists Entang Wiharso and Nasirun.

“Dr Oei Hong Djien has generously loaned SMU 35 works by artists from Yogyakarta, the centre of classical Javanese art and culture and a hotbed for contemporary art and art education in Indonesia,” the university said in a statement provided to The Bali Times.

With works by masters such as Widayat, Sudjojono, Hendra Gunawan to acclaimed new-generation artists who followed after, including Heri Dono, Nasirun, Entang Wiharso, Made Djiurna, Laksmi Shitaresmi, Moch Basori and Rudi Mantofani, the loan offers a snapshot of the practice and concerns of these artists from Yogyakarta’s influential art academies, SMU said.

Taken from Dr Oei’s private collection housed in the Museum Oei Hong Djien in Magelang, Central Java, the loan is valued at almost S$1 million (US$708,200) and will be housed in SMU’s School of Social Sciences for the next five years.

Entang Wiharso will donate The Story of Super Hero and the Black Goat II to the SMU Collection. The work is currently being created and will be personally installed by Entang in SMU’s Administration Building.

An artist who works between Indonesia and the United States on residencies, teaching and conducting workshops in art institutions, Entang assimilates his experience of the different environment he lives in with popular cartoon or superhero icons and imagery in his works, offering commentaries on social perceptions and identity. Entang’s donated work to SMU is an installation of scattered aluminium shapes, afloat against a wall and resembling dismembered parts, asking viewers to identify and piece them together to form their own interpretations as suggested by the work’s title.

Nasirun has donated his new work, Chair of the Punakawan to the SMU Collection. Nasirun is known for his large, expressive works of folk tales or social commentary based on traditional Javanese wayang (or puppet theatre) aesthetics and imagery, and which explore mysticism, folk tradition and contemporary social conditions. Chair of the Punakawan is a whimsical piece featuring the four punakawan clowns, Semar, Petruk, Gareng and Bagong, who appear in Javanese folklore as servants and friends of wayang heroes. On the extreme left of the painting is Semar, the senior and the adopted father of his three companions, who is attributed with divinity and wisdom.

SMU President Professor Howard Hunter welcomed the artists’ donations.

“SMU is grateful to the three men for their generosity and significant contribution towards the artistic enrichment of the university and the general public. Under the auspices of SMU’s Visual Arts Initiative established in 2006, their contributions add to the university’s collection of Southeast Asian art, enlivening the campus environment and fostering participation in creative expression and discourse among the campus body.

“Dr Oei’s loan and Nasirun and Entang’s donated works offer a concise account of significant artists in Indonesia’s contemporary art movement, and the impact of traditional Javanese culture and the country’s historical, social and political developments on their work.  We are very privileged to be able to house the works, and extend their enjoyment to students, faculty and visitors to bring about greater understanding and discourse of a significant and profound aspect of Indonesia,” he said.

To commemorate and share their contributions with members of the public, SMU will present Indonesian Triple Bill, comprising an exhibition of 20 works selected from Dr Oei’s loan to SMU, and two separate shows of large-scale works and installations by Nasirun and Entang. Out of Magelang: A Collection from Museum Oei Hong Djien presents a survey of the historic and artistic practice of both acclaimed and emerging contemporary Indonesian artists either based, or influenced by artistic developments, in Yogyakarta.

Dr Oei started collecting art in the 1970s, when he first met the late artists Affandi and Widayat in Yogyakarta. His collection grew as he was introduced to other artists in Yogyakarta and subsequently he set up the Museum Oei Hong Djien in Magelang, where he lives, to share his significant collection. Today Dr Oei, who is on the board of the Singapore Art Museum, is not only known for his comprehensive and respected collection, but also for his intimate knowledge of the work of Indonesian artists and Indonesia’s contemporary art development in the last three decades.

A parallel event of the Singapore Biennale 2008, Indonesian Triple Bill is presented by SMU under its Visual Arts Initiative and curated by Joanna Lee, with Channel News Asia as the media partner. It will be officially opened by Mr Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman, SMU, on September 8.

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