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Historically important Indonesian gallery Cemeti closes…to change focus

Posted by artradar on May 12, 2009


Update: 14 May 2009

As rumours swirl in the blogosphere, we are pleased to report that there is a more nuanced story to the Cemeti closure. Mella Jaarsma at Cemeti Art House tells us that the closing will be temporary and will be followed by a change in focus.

We will close cemeti from 1 August till 1 November, because we are going to build some studios. The idea is that we are not going to continue our monthly changing exhibitions, but we will continue and focus more on residency programs and special projects. So we will still do exhibitions and presentations, but we hope to have more time on developing specific projects, publications etc.

Thanks and best wishes, Mella
We thank Mella and contributors for helping us clarify this report and wish Cemeti all the best as it changes focus.




With sadness we learn that the acclaimed Indonesian gallery Cemeti Art House is to close this summer.

The artist husband and wife team Nindityo Adipurnomo and Mella Jaarsma who founded the Yogyakarta-based gallery in 1988,  has made an unparalleled contribution to the development of Indonesian contemporary art.

In 2006 the couple was awarded the prestigious John D. Rockefeller 3rd award for Professional Achievement for their commitment to developing Indonesian artists. The annual award is presented by the New York-based Asian Cultural Council to individuals from Asia and the United States who have made a particularly significant contribution to art in Asia.

What Mella and Nindityo  – the first Indonesian recipients of the Award – cared about was how to accommodate new and alternative creativity that did not have a chance in well-established art galleries. Being artists themselves they knew the pain of unrecognised creations and took it upon themselves to establish such a space so necessary to young upcoming artists.

Part of the house they were renting in Yogyakarta became the Cemeti Gallery which came to play a key role in the shaping of a virtually new generation of artists in Yogyakarta and beyond. It was here that now renowned artists like Heri Dono, Edi Hara, IGAK Murniasih (Murni) started their rise to fame.

What made Cemeti different from other galleries was that it was non-commercial, that the gallery owners continued to be engaged with artists after their exhibition closed and introduced artists to an increasingly wider network within and outside Indonesian borders.

This included keeping up with the artist’s creative development, updating their biodata and recommending them for scholarships, participation in biennials and triennials, and sending them to artist residencies and exchanges, and organizing stimulating projects.

It was of cardinal importance that Jaarsma and Nindityo maintained impeccable management of the gallery and its activities. Over time, they became the most trustworthy resource for local artists to enter the international art world.

Jakarta Post Nov 12 2006

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2 Responses to “Historically important Indonesian gallery Cemeti closes…to change focus”

  1. simon said


    During my last conversation with Mella, I’m made aware that they are only closing for the summer to renovate the gallery space, with the aim to create additional space to accommodate their ever expanding residency programme. The entry reads as if they are closing indefinitely, which I think is not true. But correct me if I’m wrong.


    • artradar said

      Simon, thank you for your input. We do appreciate it so much when readers take the time to clarify, correct or add to a report.

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