Amalia Wirjono is an entrepreneurial woman of diverse talents. She has been successful in a number of fields, including as an auction house executive and a lifestyle retailer. But her true passion is art, and her mission is to promote Indonesian art and artists all over the world.
She has pursued this mission as a former Vice President and Indonesia Representative of Christie’s, the international auction house, from 2008 to 2012, and as Hong Kong Sales Director of Gagosian Gallery, one of the most important contemporary-art galleries in the world. Since last year, she has been VIP Representative for Southeast Asia of Art Basel, which each year stages three of the world’s premier modern and contemporary art fairs in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Amalia also has a book project and a film documentary in the works.
“Art is my first and eternal love,” Amalia says in an exclusive interview with Prestige. “There’s always something you want to question or know more about. It’s just my relationship with art, I think it’s so fascinating. Over the last eight years, I have become more and more involved in the art business. Besides my work for Art Basel, I am also the founder of the Art Dept ID at The Goods Dept at Pacific Place, where the idea is to promote contemporary Indonesian art to the young generation.”
Her eyes light up when she is asked about her recent activities. “Art Basel is the oldest and the biggest art fair in the world, so it’s an honour for me to be a part of it. I travel overseas a lot for my work. The nice thing about being on the road so much is that I have made so many friends. So wherever I go, I try to enjoy it.
“I’m also delighted to have been appointed as a Commissioner by the Indonesian Creative Economy Association (Bekraf) for the Venice Art Biennale in 2017. This is a very important international platform for contemporary art, and it’s also a good opportunity to expose Indonesian artists overseas. So I think for Bekraf to get involved as one of the movers in this event is such a groundbreaking moment.”
As if all these responsibilities were not enough to keep Amalia occupied, she also finds time for two personal projects, both of which are set for completion in 2017. “I am working on a book about the studios of Indonesian artists. I always want to share everything that I’ve learned from my experiences. Among the most important things I want to share are the places where these remarkable artists work. This is a big project that I’ve been doing for some time with my partners and friends, Indra Leonardi, Hermawan Tanzil and Alexandra Corradini-Gazzini.
“Another project I’ve been working on for the last three years is a documentary film about the history of Indonesian art with In-Docs, a nonprofit organisation for documentary education and production. I think this is very important. For me, art is the identity of the nation. Every important painting has a story behind it and I want to tell that story. Also, I want to highlight Indonesian artists of the revolutionary era, because they are part of our history and they are heroes, too. They fought for our independence through their art. Making the documentary has been a hard work because we needed to do a lot of research and consult prestigious institutions.”
Her social media posts show Amalia networking at important art exhibitions and events all around the globe. It’s clear she lives a fast-paced
lifestyle. “Going to art events is my job and my passion,” she says. “Art is something you need to feel, see and interact with, so it’s best to attend as many exhibitions as possible.
“When I’m in Indonesia, I try to attend all of the events I’m invited to because I know it’s not easy to organise them. I appreciate it and I always want to support my friends. It’s a matter of a respect. If I say I can go, I will go – because I have to
make an effort.
“I am a very easy-going person, I socialise with many different types of people, and I’ve continued to do this for many years. I’ve seen the changes in the social scene, and I find it fascinating. I guess I’m fortunate to be able to mingle and associate with people from different generations and backgrounds. The advantage of going to a lot of social events is that you always meet new people. That’s why I can still relate to the now generation.”
For full Prestige It List 2017, go here.
Photography: Vicky Tanzil
Fashion Direction: Peter Zewet
Styling: Koko Namara
Makeup: Dave Rio using Lancome