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Visual art fairs of modern and contemporary artworks are promising. That invites MCH Group holding Art Basel in Hong Kong. The event is the brand new face of ART HK – Hong Kong International Art Fair since 2008.

In order to join Art Basel event, a gallery must send a proposal. This year, over more than 500 applicants, only 245 passed to join, including five galleries from Indonesia: Nadi Gallery, Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery, Edwin’s Gallery, Galeri Canna, dan ROH Projects. According to Magnus Renfrew, Director for Art Basel in Hong Kong who was also the Director of ART HK since 2012, 60% of participating galleries this year came from Asia-Pacific region. “That’s the difference of Art Basel in Hong Kong from Art Basel in Basel and in Miami Beach,” said Magnus.

No such specific criteria how many artists or artworks featured, everything had been conceptualized from the beginning of each gallery. Indonesian gallery brings well-known artists, such as Rudi mantofani, Agus Suwage, Handiwirman Saputra, Jumaldi Alfi, Heri Dono, Eddie Hara, and many others.

However, ROH Projects presenting emerging artist from Bandung, Syaiful Aulia Garibaldi. Laksamana Tirtadji, director and owner of ROH Projects, claimed his first interest in Syaiful’s artworks after attending his solo exhibition titled Regnum Fungi (2012) in Galeri Padi, Bandung. Jun, as Laksamana usually being called, was attracted with artworks using bacteria as medium which proposed by Syaiful. ROH Projects began to represent Syaiful, including when the artist’s solo exhibition in Pearl Lam Galleries, Singapore. 

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Interstitial Organisms # 1 karya Syaiful Aulia Garibaldi (Silicon Sealant on Plywood, 200 x 200 cm, 2014)

Jun’s decision seems awkward to bring an artist who only had two solo exhibitions into an art fair. But the strategy works very well as Syaiful’s artworks deserved to be featured in special solo project for Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014.

Syaiful’s artworks titled Interstitial Exploration. The artist who had finished residency for Galeri L’espace Contemporain in La Rochelle, Paris, was featuring “thousands of Terhah creatures from microorganism exploration.” Terhah is a construction language created by Syaiful as a communication among the microbiology creatures found in microscope. His series of artworks are acrylic paintings, 3D visual from silicon, and also installation of Terhah creators in microscope, petri dish, and screened projector.

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014 are divided into six sectors: Galleries, Insights, Discoveries, Encounters, Film, and Magazine. Meanwhile, Indonesian galleries are divided into two sectors.  Nadi Gallery and Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery in Galleries sector, which featured galleries with more than three years. Galeri Canna, Edwin’s Gallery, and ROH Projects are in Insights sector. This sector features galleries with thematic artworks from artists.

By joining five Indonesian galleries, Chris Darmawan, owner of Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery, claimed this is a positive insight. “When an Indonesian artist presents in Hong Kong, they represent Indonesian visual art,” said Chris. Even though the amount is minimum and does not represent Indonesian art in general.

Then, could Indonesia hold such art fair like Art Basel in Hong Kong? Biantoro Santoso, owner of Nadi Gallery, doubted such event could be held in Indonesia. He said this country policy avoiding international galleries to bring their artworks inside. Whereas Hong Kong has such policy that makes it easier for the logistics.

But Chris had another opinion. He mentions Bazaar Art Jakarta which in its sixth this year. The event features international art galleries from Singapore, Hong Kong, Filipina and Japan. If getting serious, Bazaar Art jakarta is potential to be like Art Basel in Hong Kong in town.