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Contemporary Art In Indonesia

Contemporary art began to flourish in Indonesia in the early 1970s, although the country has a long history of modern art, dating back to the late 19th century. While contemporary art is thought to express “now-ness” or is strictly related to current situations, there is always something that connects artists, even from different generations – the works reflect the socio-political situations of the artists’ homelands. This also applies to Indonesian contemporary art, but there is another layer of inspiration at work here. Indonesian contemporary art is often deeply rooted in tradition, which is still playing an important role in everyday life in the country. Many contemporary Indonesian artists use some form of their culture and traditions in their work, such as local or traditional techniques or materials or visuals and symbols. In doing so, this brings these cultural elements beyond their traditional function and into the world of contemporary art, enriching the ever-changing global vocabulary of art.

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Alienation of The Stone at Sasonomulyo - Melati Suryodarmo

In Indonesia, the artistic exploration of the socio-political has evolved over time. During the New Order regime, artists spread critical discourse boldly, while during reformation, artists were more subtle in their expressions of their political beliefs as a result of deep reflection on history and the complexity of the surrounding cultural and political context.

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Untitled - Wimo Ambala Bayang

The artwork now on display throughout Katamama is part of an important milestone in the history of contemporary art in Indonesia. Most of the artists included here are significant creators who are regularly included in international exhibition, spreading the word of the Indonesia’s artistic depth. As you can see in each of the works, there is a connection to Indonesia combined with a minimalist, conceptual global language. Using humour, criticism, cynicism and reflection, these artists create a dialogue that touches on history, multiculturalism, the environment, materialism and other big international themes.

Discover more about Wimo Ambala Bayang, Wedhar Ruyadi, Anusapati, and Melati Suryodarmo