With over twenty years of experience in the art industry, Deborah Iskandar is known as the expert in all things art and design. After heading two of the world’s leading auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and successfully managing her own art advisory firm, she launched Indonesian Luxury.
Curating only the best in art and design, Indonesian Luxury caters for discerning buyers, who appreciate quality and style with a hint of luxury. NOW! Jakarta met with Deborah to talk about her passion for art and the current trends in the scene.
There is so much art in Indonesia, but it isn’t something the rest of the world is aware of. Why do you think that is?
When you talk about art, everything goes in cycles. There was a period in 2006-2007 when contemporary Asian art was hot and in demand. Chinese art was going for millions of dollars. In comparison Indonesian art seemed cheap. Soon, it started going up at auction houses. The prices went crazy and that’s when foreigners found out about contemporary Indonesian art, through the auction houses, which started doing contemporary art in 2005.
Auctions really opened the wider public to Indonesian art. When ARTJOG was launched, people realised they didn’t need to go to auctions, but they could go to the art fair instead. Then they found the galleries. When you look at art fairs such as Art Hong Kong before it became Art Basel, it was affordable for Indonesian galleries to participate and people came to fairs. Indonesia has a very strong domestic market.
You’ve been collecting art for years. Do you have any preferences?
I usually go by collections. I was 26 when I bought my first painting and I have a collection of contemporary Russian art. When I bought it thirty years ago, it was contemporary but now it’s modern. I also have a collection of modern Indonesian art, and I started collecting Vietnamese art because it wasn't too expensive. I always buy according to my personal taste and the value. I still buy contemporary Asian art because I think it's good to have a theme for a collection, therefore I would advise everybody to stick to a theme.
More young people are interested in art these days. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it's because of the rise of Instagram and photography in general. When people go to a museum, they say ”wow I saw that cool Jeff Koons" and post about it. I think social media definitely helps to drive the art market. Things are more visual, so the question is how to take it from social media to your home. That’s where we step in with IndonesianLuxury.com, that is our mission.
We are working with galleries and we’re taking art out of the warehouses and studios, and putting it online while promoting it in a big way thanks to our network and connections. People can find art on a website. They don't have time to go somewhere or visit the galleries to buy. Now you can simply go online once you know the name of the artwork and find it again on the website. That is the future —seeing offline and buying online.
You’ve worked with Christie’s and Sotheby’s. How does your experience there help with your work today?
I did it for 17 years and now I’m focused on my own business. I deal privately and do partnerships. That’s how I got the idea for Indonesian Luxury. Auctions are great with catalogues. That’s what people look at, often they don’t see the actual painting. Many people are bidding online and auction houses are investing in the online mechanism, therefore there is a great opportunity for us with the online aspect. It doesn't have to be an auction but a private selling.
This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine August 2018 issue “Capital of Culture”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.