“When we talk about Southeast Asia in contemporary art, we have to talk about Indonesia,” he said. “They have some of the strongest artists and collectors in Asia.”
To improve their visibility, Art Stage Singapore 2013 will include dedicated space for Indonesian galleries and an exhibition of about 30 Indonesian artists, some of whom have never shown outside the country. And in an unusual move for an art fair, Art Stage will represent about two-thirds of them. “We only want to show the best, but many Indonesian artists [don’t work] with galleries,” Mr. Rudolf said. “We have a situation where the infrastructure is not there.”
“The exhibition is a fantastic chance for me to give the audience a broad perspective regarding the Indonesian art scene,” said abstract painter Jumaldi Alfi, who plans to show “Melting Memories, Rereading Landscape,” a landscape painting inspired by Dutch colonial-era art.
Other expected to participate include Arahmaiani, an artist who explores political themes in her work and has shown at the Venice Biennale, and Heri Dono, whose sculptures and paintings often feature cartoon characters. Art Stage declined to say how much the exhibit and representation would cost.
Will Art Stage scare off some of its participating galleries by competing with them? On the final day of the 2012 fair in January, Mr. Rudolf brought a small group of collectors to visit artists’ studios in Indonesia. Some galleries complained that they were cut out of the tour, which they said took collectors away from the fair.
Mr. Rudolf acknowledged that there was “friction” but said that the Indonesian pavilion will help them this time, by attracting collectors. “It is the best promotion for them,” he said. “If Indonesia is here, then there is no need to go to Indonesia.”
Oei Hong Djien and Deddy Kusuma, collectors known for their interest in Indonesian art, have both signaled their support for the initiative.
Biantoro Santoso, founder of the Jakarta-based gallery Nadi, is also supportive. “We can promote Indonesian contemporary art to a much wider international audience at Art Stage,” he said. “In other words, the market for Indonesian contemporary art will be bigger.”
The Wall Street Journal