Thu, 10 Apr 2003

RI artist makes big name overseas

Boudewijn Brands, Contributor, Yogyakarta

Usually, Indonesian artists that gain international recognition, achieve that from their home base promoted by local and international curators. Many more people want to live as an artist as the buying public allows.

So usually, only a minority of a given artist population can actually live from the art they make.

Love took Fauzie As'Ad to the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein between Switzerland and Austria. He made it after a lot of additional study and training.

Fauzie As'Ad was born in 1968 in Bekasi and lived there as well as in Tasikmalaya and Yogyakarta. He does not feel that he really belongs to any particular ethnic group.

Liechtenstein, like Switzerland, has hardly any natural resources but its wealth originates from the provision of high- class and specialized services. Among them is the disputed bank account secrecy and the possibility of setting up international headquarters there.

In the cultural field, the Principality is outstanding. The royal family has a famous art collection and the country has its own museum in which this collection is integrated and where a modern, contemporary collection has been added in more recent times.

Given the high standard of living, the "artist density" is high: 160 artists from a little less than 40,000 inhabitants! As in all other parts of the world, only a few artists find enough buyers to live exclusively from their art. These professional artists can be found on website

So how did Fauzie become one of them? When still a student at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta in 1990, he met Sabine Wilscher.

She had just finished her studies and was making her first overseas trip, which took her to the local art school in tourist destination Yogyakarta. She returned to Liechtenstein and worked as a nurse in a psychiatric institution after that. They got married in 1993 and after Fauzie finished his studies at ISI, he moved to be with her in Liechtenstein in 1995.

"The first two years were hard," says Fauzie. Less so than in Indonesia, collectors in Liechtenstein do not determine who will be successful. Curators play a much more important role.

"You do not need many friends, only the right ones", Fauzie remarked.

He is not really happy with the situation as he feels that curators care less about art but more about promoting the artists they like.

He managed to get his first solo exhibition in 1996. His luck came in 1997 when the VP Bank launched an art prize for the first time. Fauzie made a detailed proposal and he did get the prize: a six-month stint working at the sculpture studio of Luigi Corsanini in Carrara, Italy.

This town is famous for its marble which Fauzie could explore intimately in combination with all the technical facilities and tools a sculptor could dream of. The final result of this period, a marble statue of two meters high, is now placed in front of the Bank's office.

This prize came after Fauzie suffered a major setback: when visiting Indonesia he was involved in a car accident which badly damaged his eyes and face. He was flown to the hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland, where one eye was saved.

To be immersed in an intensive sculpture program has helped him adapt. In fact, he observed that seeing one-dimensional, feeling a three-dimensional work such as a sculpture leads to new approaches.

In 1998 and 1999 he managed to join 11 group exhibitions both in Europe (Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany) as well as in Indonesia.

He really received recognition with a solo exhibition at Galerie Tangente in his hometown Eschen in 1998. The government invested in him and paid for one year of study and traveling which allowed him to go to London, Paris and Berlin thereby gaining firsthand insight into contemporary developments in Europe.

Thomas Ernst Wanger, an art historian, involved himself intensively with Fauzie, both at his studio as well as through talks. The result was a thorough introduction to Fauzie and his art on the occasion of his second solo exhibition there in 2001.

He turned the gallery into a workshop where he was available during opening times. The public could, therefore, know him and his art firsthand. Fauzie did more. He cooked Indonesian food for his guests, so expanding their horizons even more.

Being in Indonesia now, he wants to help build a cultural bridge between his part of Europe and Indonesia.

"Too many Indonesian artists follow the mainstream. They should go out and explore the world, not wait to be invited," he said.

He makes his house in Yogya available for this purpose.

Fauzie's gallery and studio is open until April 28, 2003. Address: Soboman 219, Rt 06/Rw 29, Ngestiharjo, Kasihan, Yogyakarta 55182, Tel.: 0274 378174, e-mail: