One of the hottest Indonesian contemporary artists, Agus Suwage is his own greatest muse.
hile prices of Indonesian art were falling off the cliff at the height of the global financial crisis, the works of the 52 year-old, Purworejo-born Agus Suwage continued to be sought after by leading collectors both in Indonesia and Malaysia, proving that his works are no fad. In Christie’s Fall sales in November, his work, Luxury Crime, sold for HKD600,000 (RM236,000), almost four times the high estimate.
A year earlier, during a weaker period, his Pandora fetched HKD400,000 (RM157,000), the higher estimated price, while another piece, Portrait of the young artist as a young man was sold for HKD500,000 (RM196,000), double the high estimate price.
In November 2008, at the start of the global financial crisis, his Seni Higienis Estetis fetched HKD920,000 (RM362,000), triple the high estimate value. Six months earlier, sellers at auctions were raking it in and his Oh Plastik, Oh Daging was taken up for HKD1.1 million (RM432,500). He recognises that he had indirectly benefited from the auction art boom but does not believe in them.
“They are not good because they make artists become money-minded. It’s dangerous to live like this. I would not sell my work directly to auction houses,” he declared.