Room to Grow: Local Talent Flourishes in Java's Art Capital

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Sangkring Art space

Expansive Sangkring offers over 500 sq m of avant-garde art

Yogyakarta is the cultural center of Java and nurtures one of Indonesia's hottest art scenes. The local branch of the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) has turned out many of the nation's most prominent artists. So it comes as a surprise to learn that this city of 1.5 million did not have a substantial home for modern art until Putu Sutawijaya opened the Sangkring Art Space in 2007. Until then, work was only shown in small private galleries.

Located in the small village of Nitiprayan, about 15 minutes from Yogyakarta's city center, Sangkring Art Space is first and foremost for local artists. "I've been fortunate as an artist and wanted to give something back to the community that has been so supportive," explains 39-year-old Putu, a Bali native, ISI graduate and one of the country's most sought-after painters and sculptors. "The incredible art being produced in Yogya needs a space of [a high] standard, and I hope that is what we have built."

With three floors, giant windows and more than 500 sq m of exhibition area, the venue is awash with natural light. "What I like about it is that it is a friendly space and not intimidating," says Valentine Willie, a prominent regional art dealer. "It is the best in Yogya, if not Indonesia."

Sangkring's sprawling main floor is reserved for shows organized in cooperation with outside curators. A smaller space upstairs is devoted to young, experimental artists. "We want artists to come to us with ideas," says Putu. "It's their space, and we want them to use it."

They're certainly doing that. Since opening its doors, Sangkring has held 55 shows, with many more in the pipeline. "I keep busy, but I also enjoy watching out for who's up-and-coming," says Putu. "And there are so many, I don't even try to keep track."

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