Im afraid a handful of artists celebrating the 80th birthday of a patron with an exhibition is great, but it is not the story. The story is when 300 other artists also join in to celebrate the birthday in 17 different exhibitions that they become 2 city-wide affair, in Yogjakarta and Magelang. And I was told the number keeps increasing and organisers have lost count.
I was there to film some parts of it to add a scene to my film on Dr Oei, the 24-Hour Art Practice, and I came to understand why. Dr. Oei is well-liked by artists not just because he is known or he buys art, but because he takes his time with each of them. Everyone counts.
In every venue, everyone wanted a picture with him, everyone would patiently wait for his turn to get a critique of some sort. Regardless of whether the artist was known, or if the work had merit, Dr Oei would patiently go through each of the works and have an exchange and a photo with the artist. Laughter always followed. Their exchange was both heartwarmingly personal and communal. I don’t think I have witnessed anything quite like it anywhere else in the world. Has anyone?
This may well be in the Guinness Book of World Records as an art world’s entry, and an Indonesian one too 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼.