One of the major tourist destinations in Indonesia, beautiful and vibrant Yogyakarta has lot to offer culture-hungry travellers. From breath-taking ancient Hindu temples to the sumptuous Sultan’s palace, from contemporary art galleries to serene fine art museums, the city, often endearingly called Jogja, has something for everyone. But it’s an Java’s art hub that the city stands out, so here are the best ten art galleries in Yogyakarta, perfect for art-lovers.
Situated in a quiet and peaceful residential area of Jogja,Ruang MES56 is a unique non-profit organisation, established and run by a group of artists. Founded in 2002, the institution aims to support and promote exploratory and experimental approaches to contemporary photography and visual arts in Indonesia, as well as strengthening and expanding the South Asian network of contemporary artists. MES56 hosts a small exhibition hall and a tiny library, where a variety of art events such as contemporary photography workshops, inter-disciplinary art projects, lectures, discussions and presentations take place on a regular basis. MES56 also offers a residency, open for young, emerging, and established artists.
Founded in 2007 by Balinese painter Putu Sutawijaya, Sangkring Art Space is a prime modern and contemporary art centre in Jogja. Located in the famous artist village of Nitripayan, the latest addition to the local art scene offers two floors and more than 500 square metres of an exhibition area for modern and contemporary artists. Sangkring Art Space aims to showcase the best of contemporary Indonesian art, as well as support new local talents and experimental artists. The art space has held more than 55 different exhibitions since the opening, with the most impressive exhibition showcasing the work of Anusapati, a renowned Indonesian contemporary artist who used a series of suspended and disused railroad tracks in his works.
One of the oldest art spaces and exhibition halls in Yogyakarta, Bentara Budaya is a renowned cultural institution, owned and funded by Kompas Gramedia Group, with several sister organisations in different Indonesian cites, including Jakarta and Bali. Opened in 1982 with an exhibition of traditional painting by Citra Waluyo and Sastra Gambar, Bentara Budaya aims to showcase the best of Indonesian art and crafts, including traditional paintings, wooden statues and ceramics, as well as offer emerging artists a platform to showcase their work. In addition to exhibitions, Bentara Budaya regularly organises a variety of cultural events such as film screening, cultural performances and monthly art lectures and discussions.
Established in 1988 by Nindityo Adipurnomo and Mella Jaarsma, Cemeti Art Foundation can be divided in two separate organisations – Indonesian Visual Arts Archive which serves as an information, documentation and promotion centre for visual arts in Indonesia, and Cemeti Art House, with a focus on art exhibitions and projects both by Indonesian and foreign contemporary artists, art management and residency. Cemeti Art House has showcased artworks of a variety of renowned Indonesian modern and contemporary artists, including Anusapati, Agung Kurniawan and Ugo Untoro, among others. The art centre aims to support emerging contemporary artists and seeks to promote their work in the international art market, as well as stimulate local art practices, discourse and management through local community based art projects, art management education programmes, art and society programmes, as well as offering residencies to contemporary artists.
Located in the exclusive heritage area of Yogyakarta Sultanate Palace, Jogja Gallery features emerging and well-established contemporary Indonesian artists. Occupying a former movie theatre and a great example of traditional Javanese architecture, built under Dutch rule in 1929, the spacious and light art gallery houses two floors and 900 square meters of exhibition space and a small cafe, overlooking large open lawn squares nearby. Opened in 2006, Jogja gallery aims to promote Indonesian contemporary art and provide a much-needed exhibition space for young artists from Yogyakarta to present their works to wider public. The gallery mostly features group exhibitions, and carries out a variety of cultural events, as well as art auctions.
A curious mixture of contemporary art gallery, performance space, bookstore, and restaurant, Kedai Kebun is one of the favourite artist hangout spots in Yogyakarta. Founded in 1996, Kedai Kebun is entirely managed by a group of artists, creating a unique and vibrant art space. The art space aims to create an alternative playing space for inter-disciplinary art performances and exhibitions, aiming to support contemporary artists, to provoke and inspire the art community and to familiarise the larger public with alternative artistic expressions. Kedai Kebun regularly organises contemporary art and photography exhibitions, film screenings, a variety of cultural performances, lectures and discussions and publishes a quarterly viewer’s journal HALTE.
A recent newcomer to Yogyakarta’s art scene, Langgeng Art Foundation was opened in 2010 by Deddy Irianto, gallery owner and manager of prominent Langgeng gallery in Java. The Foundation aims to support contemporary art in Indonesia and promote well-established Indonesian artists on the global scale. Situated in the distinctive building designed by renowned Indonesian architect Eko Prawoto, Langgeng Art Foundation hosts a variety of art and photography exhibitions and has exhibited numerous well-known contemporary artists such as FX Harsono, S Teddy D, Agus Suwage and Filippo Siascia among others. The Foundation also publishes a variety of exhibition catalogues and art books, organises regular talks and lectures, and offers residency to interested artists.
Situated on the bank of Gajah Wong River, Affandi Museum celebrates the work and life of one of the best-known Indonesian painters in the world. The delightful museum hosts several art galleries, displaying personal items of the artist and over 250 paintings, including some astonishing self-portraits. The grounds and the building itself is a true expression of the artistic sentiments of Affandi, as it was entirely designed and constructed by the artist himself. Some of the building’s features are wonderfully bizarre, such as prayer room, which is located in a converted horse carriage, painted in all technicolour tones with a roof shaped as a banana leaf.
Opened in 1977, Yogyakarta’s main cultural centre, Taman Budaya consists of two main buildings – Taman Budaya Concert Hall and Societet Militar Building. Whilst the Concert Hall regularly serves as a multipurpose space for contemporary visual art, photography and sculpture exhibitions, poetry readings, literary discussions, lectures and presentations, the Societet Militar Building focuses on performing arts such as traditional and modern music concerts, dance performances, and traditional Javanese shadow puppet theatre. Located in the centre of Yogyakarta, Taman Budaya is a must visit, offering a wide range of cultural activities to choose from, including annual Yogyakarta Art Festival, taking place during summer months.
The first contemporary art museum in Indonesia, Jogja National Museum is a non-profit foundation for art and culture conservation and development, including visual art, performing art and multimedia art. Founded in the early 2000s, the museum aims to facilitate contemporary art practices and support contemporary Indonesian artists. Situated in the former complex of the Art Institute of Indonesia in Yogyakarta and covering almost two hectares, the museum consists of several buildings, including the Citizen Hall, where young and emerging artists can exhibit their work free of charge, as well as a fine art gallery and a contemporary art and sculpture exhibition hall. In the future, Jogya National Museum also intends to renovate artist studios and guesthouses for residential artists, as well establish a contemporary art library.