Graffiti and street artists from Southeast Asia and Europe exhibited their works at the second edition of “Off the Wall Jakarta” at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel from Friday (11/08) to Sunday.
The event is a franchise of “Off the Wall,” which premiered in Singapore in 2011, and aims to promote street art.
“We hope to make it more visible on the global art scene … we want to help [Indonesians] in building connections with artists from other countries,” curator Claire Thibaud-Piton told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday.
Given their big and self-sufficient network, street artists find it easy to collaborate.
In 2016, only French and Indonesian artists were showcased. But this year, 70 works by 32 artists from 20 European and Southeast Asian countries were exhibited, including England-based graffiti superstar Banksy, Indonesia’s Farhan Siki and Stereoflow, Seth and Lazoo from France, Katun from Malaysia, Chekos Art from Italy, Bates from Denmark, Alex Face from Thailand and Antz from Singapore.
Banksy’s ‘Laugh Now LP Set’ (2002) and ‘Happy Chopper’ (2003) were also exhibited at Off The Wall Jakarta. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)
The decision to focus on European and Asean artists was in line with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Europe and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which will be observed later this month.
“For the curatorial process, we tried to select the best street art and graffiti artists from European and Southeast Asian countries, as we wanted to get a nice representation of different styles and techniques used in urban art, like stencils, graffiti and calligraphy pasteup,” Thibaud-Piton added.
This year Off the Wall Jakarta was part of international art fair Art Stage Jakarta. According to Thibaud-Piton, the collaboration made it possible to take street art to a wider audience.
France-born artist Ceet said the art fair entry should also boost the reputation of graffiti as legitimate art. Many often consider it inferior to other visual arts and perceive street artists as hooligans.
“This is the best way to make people discover our art … most of them think we are vandals. But if they come to the exhibition, they will see we are also art workers. We have studios. We travel around the world doing exhibitions at museums and galleries,” Ceet told the Jakarta Globe.
Internationally renowned Indonesian artist from Yogyakarta, Tuyuloveme, also highlighted the importance of the event. Although he does not care much about the public’s perception of his work, he sees the significance of the exhibition for graffiti and street art in general.
“People can [now] judge [the works] from a different perspective and see that graffiti can be displayed in this way. As a matter of fact, galleries showing graffiti works are nothing new, but they are still rare in Indonesia,” he said.
From left, muralists Ceet (France), Sleeck (Indonesia), and Alex Face (Thailand) decorate a cake at the opening of ‘Off the Wall Jakarta’ at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel on Friday (11/08). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
The artists joined together to decorate a huge cake and, a day before the opening ceremony, they painted the walls of the Institut Francais d’Indonésie (IFI) in Central Jakarta.
Although they only got to know each other a few minutes earlier, they seemed at ease in sharing the space and working together.
Alex’s signature one-eyed furry baby, along with Ceet’s chicken and Sleeck’s barong-inspired figure pulled a curtain that revealed a colorful flower by Indonesian artist Wormo.
From left, Wormo (Indonesia), Alex, Ceet, and Sleeck paint the walls of the Institut Francais d’Indonésie (IFI) in Central Jakarta on Thursday (10/08). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Wormo, who started his street art work in 2004, said for graffiti and street artists collaboration is nothing formal or rigid, but a natural burst of spontaneous creativity.
“Collaborations like this one are nothing unusual. If we travel overseas, all we have to do is find a fellow graffiti or street artist to host us and meet with new friends,” he said.
The artists defined themselves as “citizens of the world,” because they travel a lot and can express their creativity anywhere, not representing any particular tradition, so the countries of their origin are of secondary importance to the art process.
“Our community is a united global community,” Wormo said.