Art Fair Turns Dealer at Art Stage Singapore to Promote Indonesian Art

International art fairs should not just be spaces for selling art, says Lorenzo Rudolf, director of Art Stage Singapore, they also have a role to play in developing an eco-system between artists, galleries, and collectors. And where the galleries are failing, an art fair should step in.

Now in its third year, Art Stage has announced it will be going one step further in its next edition, and treading controversial new ground, by helping Indonesian artists sell directly to collectors as part of a new Indonesian Pavilion being established within Art Stage Singapore 2013. The fair will also be taking the dealer’s commission on these sales, which is typically around 50 percent.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Rudolf agreed this was “new ground” for a fair, but argued that it was a step necessary to take because many of these artists are not represented by any galleries and therefore would otherwise not have the opportunity to showcase their works in an international art fair.

The Indonesian Pavilion will form a “show within the show” with over 1000 square meters of dedicated space. Rudolf feels Indonesian contemporary artists deserve the spotlight: “They are really very strong, absolutely competitive with the best of the best in the West.”

Such an endorsement begs the question of why these talented artists remain unrepresented but Rudolf argues Indonesia has a “unique” art scene in Asia, because it has great artists and a very strong collector base, but a weak local gallery infrastructure, which is not promoting its artists enough internationally. With more international galleries coming in and cherry-picking the top Indonesian artists, local galleries are now facing the risk of being edge out on the more lucrative part of the market and thus finding it more difficult to support the emerging artists, Rudolf argues.

He noted that since the start of the year, the participation of Indonesian galleries in major art fairs (like Art Stage and Art HK) had dropped by up to 50 percent compared to the previous year, resulting in limited access to Indonesian art for international collectors and limited market access for emerging artists