How do you get the chance to visit living legend Damien Hirst’s studio? You could become a patron of Museum MACAN, like Gaby Bakrie. The wife of business leader Indra Bakrie talks to Liviani Putri about art appreciation, her work for Yayasan Bakrie Amanah and the joys of running an event catering business.
“Yes it was a mind-blowing experience, as you might expect,” says Gaby Bakrie. She is giving Prestige the lowdown on her recent visit to Damien Hirst’s studio and how she learned about the controversial 54-year-old British artist and entrepreneur’s creative ways.
As she tries on designs by Valentino, Fendi, Didit Hediprasetyo and three of the labels at Masari – MSGM, Solace London, and Camilla and Marc – Gaby reveals that she is a great admirer of the man who escaped from a working-class broken home to become a self-made multi-millionaire thanks to creations such as The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 14-foot tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde.
“I find his ideas very modern and evolving, exploring the complex relationship between art, life and death through installations, sculpture, paintings and drawings,” Gaby says. “From that trip, I learned that art has many sides, which evoke different reactions and emotions from each person.”
Just how do you get the chance to see the studio of a living legend like Damien Hirst? Gaby is one of the patrons of Museum MACAN (Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara), the first museum in Indonesia to have a collection of modern and contemporary Indonesian and international art. The patrons’ mission is to become agents for art education in Indonesia.
“As patrons, we are introduced to new emerging artists, become part of the acquisition process in the museum, and we have discussions with the team behind the museum itself, including directors, conservators, artists, and curators,” Gaby tells us. “We also take part in patron group trips to the most exciting art hubs in the world.”
Gaby says her relationship with art became stronger as a result of “my good friend Amalia Wirjono”, who “was the one who introduced me to the patron programme. Aaron Seeto, the Director of Museum MACAN, took us to London and Berlin, where we met various artists, visited galleries and studios, and attended the Frieze Art Fair,” an international contemporary art fair in London.
Of all of the art museums she has visited around the world, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is Gaby’s favourite. It is one of the largest museums in the United States, with a permanent collection spanning more than 6,000 years of history and approximately 64,000 works from six continents. What’s still on her bucket list? “I would like to go to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town to learn more about African art and culture,” she replies.
Speaking of preferences, she enjoys all forms of art. “I love them all, but my favourites are paintings and sculptures,” Gaby says. “But if I had to acquire one piece for my personal collection, I would choose figurative art because it has strong references to the real world.” Her artist heroes are Jackson Pollock and Frida Kahlo. Of the latter, Gaby declares: “I admire her paintings because they’re inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico, and they have strong autobiographical elements, a mixture of realism and fantasy.”
Being born into a creative family (her mother is an artist and a fashion designer) shaped Gaby’s perspective about art at a young age. “Watching my mother painting and sculpting and creating beautiful clothing fascinated me. I gradually learned to appreciate the process of making an art work. For me, art is an expression of how the artist measures life, looking at it and putting it on a blank canvas.”
Gaby’s greatest art treasure is “1982”, a painting by Ahmad Sadali that “my late father gave to my mother a few months before he passed away. It hangs in my home now as a remembrance of him.” Gaby recalls a 1999 trip with her mother to Bandung, where she met Sunaryo, the prolific artist behind the Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS), a non-profit institution focused on art and culture.
“He never limits his art practice to one field, his works includes paintings, sculpture, graphic prints, interior design and installations,” Gaby says. “His creations reflect human relationships with nature, and he often uses materials such as stone, wood and water. A few months after our visit, he painted a portrait of me. I still cherish it.”
For the past three years or so, Gaby, who is the wife of business leader Indra Bakrie has been dedicating herself to her work for Yayasan Bakrie Amanah, founded in 2010. “We work closely with doctors with a focus on caring for the elderly by providing free health check-ups and surgeries,” Gaby explains. “Most of the cases the doctors take care of are cataract operations.”
Gaby’s first entrepreneurial venture began in 1995, when she opened Twilite Café. Catering to expatriates and young Indonesian professionals living in Kemang, the chic venue was a trendsetter, combining a restaurant with a bookstore and a men’s barbershop, all with a French ambiance.
After Twilite Café, Gaby launched Magenta Café, Otel Lobby and Ikuze Japanese Food Bazaar. In a previous interview with Prestige, she said her travels were the source of a lot of good ideas: “It gives me the opportunity to see many culinary wonders in many places around the world. The scenery, the smells and tastes have left special marks in my head. which often become inspirations to bring those exciting moments back home.”
In 2011, the former model shifted from restaurants to events catering services. “The idea was to switch from guests coming to my place, to letting me bring the food to their home or office,” Gaby explains. “Gaia Catering Company provides feasts that can be enjoyed at home or at the office. The choices range from local to international delicacies, including Western, Chinese and Japanese. There are canapés and desserts for high tea and coffee-break functions. It doesn’t stop there. We also make lunch boxes, from regular Indonesian style boxes to premium vegetarian selections. Basically, we want everyone to be able to enjoy a taste of our kitchen.”
Running a catering company is by no means easy work, but Gaby enjoys the challenge. “It’s always evolving, and I really enjoy it,” she says of the business. “That’s why we should never stop learning and looking at new ideas to improve the business. We must keep up with the important trends in the F&B industry and always maintain high-quality product and service standards. There’s nothing that brings me more happiness than seeing the smiles on my clients’ face when they are enjoying our good-quality food.”
As the conversation winds down, the subject returns to art appreciation, especially the enigmatic nature of so much contemporary art. What’s good, and what’s not? How do you even know? Gaby smiles and says: “Don’t think too much. Just enjoy every single piece you look at for what it is, and remember that you are going to have something really beautiful in your house – a piece that you will admire the most. Because we should not look at art as a case of following a trend or another person. It has to come from your heart, and you have to love it. That’s what matters most.
PHOTOGRAPHER HENDRA KUSUMA
STYLING BRAD HOMES
MAKE-UP: UPAN DUVAN (62 818) 685 858
HAIR: SHABURA (62 818) 0869 0949
STYLING ASSISTANT: LINTANG HUTAMI
BVLGARI IS IN PLAZA INDONESIA & PLAZA SENAYAN
DIDIT HEDIPRASETYO IS AT DIDITHEDIPRASETYO.COM
FENDI IS IN PLAZA INDONESIA
FRITZ HANSEN IS AT JALAN SENOPATI 45,
SOUTH JAKARTA (FRITZHANSEN.COM)
VALENTINO IS IN PLAZA INDONESIA
COLLECTIONS FROM MASARISHOP.COM
also AVAILABLE AT MASARI SENAYAN CITY