Pilaey, a painter in Pasar Seni Ancol (Photo: Brilio/Retno Wulandari)

The market's glory has slowly dimmed these past years, but its artists are still there to make art.

Retno Wulandari   08 May 2017 11:50

Ancol Art Market, locally known as Pasar Seni, once enjoyed its heyday, from 1975 until many years after that. Artists owning the kiosks there enjoyed popularity when their artworks were highly sought after. Some of them even once had 25 employees to help them organize their showroom.

At the age of 42, Pasar Seni is not as crowded as it used to be. Over the past ten years, the glory of the Pasar Seni has slowly dimmed. The artworks didn’t sell as well as before and artists have to put extra effort to earn a living from their works. Even during holidays, the art market looks quiet and deserted despite ongoing events like the Friday night’s jazz live concerts.

Pilaey's kiosk in Pasar Seni Ancol © 2017 brilio.net/Retno Wulandari

We talked to Pilaey, a painter who owns the number 71 kiosk in Pasar Seni Ancol, to find out more about how everything has been going. 

By the way, if you notice, he's wearing his glasses upside down.

How long have you had a kiosk in Pasar Seni?

Not too long. About three years. It's considered new compared to other artists in Pasar Seni. Some of the senior artists have been here for 30 or 40 years. But this kiosk is now my workshop. I paint here every single day.

What style of painting do you do?

I focus on cartoon and caricature. Sometimes I do realism. Everyone here has his/her own specialization. There were realism, cubism, abstract, conceptual art, hyperrealism, pop art, futurism, impressionism, monochrome painting, surrealism, op-art, you name it.

How did you become a painter and why?

I am a self-taught painter, because it is a hobby and I have a personal interest in arts since a young age. I've never pursued any formal education in arts, so it’s purely because I enjoy it so much and I feel like doing it for the rest of my life.

As an artist, I never have to tell myself what to do or where to go. Just go with the flow and you’ll find yourself along the way. When you find a peace of mind while working, that's when you know you've found what you're looking for. But the journey didn’t stop there. You need to continuously sharpen your knife. Even if you have the gift, if you neglect your practice, you may lose the touch.

One of Pilaey's works. © 2017 brilio.net/Retno Wulandari

Regarding the style, why did you choose cartoon?

I enjoy painting cartoon so much. Unlike any other painting styles, I find humor in cartoon. I don’t like my artworks to be too serious. Cartoons are less demanding, unlike any other painting style, where you’re expected not to cross the line. For example, when you paint someone’s portrait, the result of his painting should be similar to the real person. I find freedom in cartoon.

Let's talk about Pasar Seni, is this place always quiet or can it be crowded sometimes?

The situation isn’t too different from time to time, with not so many visitors. Sometimes collectors still come here. However, crowded or quiet, it doesn’t matter. It all depends on our own fortune. Sometimes this place is crowded, but if we have no fortune, we won’t sell anything. Sometimes when it’s quiet, even when we’re asleep, prospective buyers knocked at our doors. It’s true, we make a living here, but we’re also artists. So it’s not always about money.

Typically, how many paintings you sell in a week?

It’s uncertain, but usually it needs more than one week to sell a painting. But besides making and selling paintings, I also accept orders of caricatures for gifts, stuff like that. Sometimes when seeing my kiosk, visitors get the idea of ordering caricatures as gifts. All they need to do is sending me photos. If they live out of town, I can ship the caricature, installed neatly in the frame already. But when I can’t count on walk-in visitors or word of mouth, I could use some help from the social media in promoting my works.

Some of caricatures painted by Pilaey.
© 2017 brilio.net/Retno Wulandari

What are your expectations for Pasar Seni and arts in general?

I hope all of the artists —painters, sculptors, puppet artists, ceramic artists and all— can be supported by the government, so Indonesia can enjoy the glory of fine art once again. As you can see, fine art is sinking and it’s worsening in the last two years. I hope artists can be appreciated for what they do.



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