Collector's Eye: an interview with Haryanto Adikoesoemo

Art lovers tell us what they’ve bought and why

Haryanto Adikoesoemo Photo: Yuwono Widiasta

Haryanto Adikoesoemo Photo: Yuwono Widiasta

Haryanto Adikoesoemo, the head of the chemicals and energy conglomerate AKR Corporindo, is the founder of Museum Macan, a private institution showing Modern and contemporary art in Jakarta. Opened in 2017, the museum has been described as an important factor in filling the gap in Indonesia’s cultural infrastructure, which has been lagging behind the growth of the country’s vibrant community of artists and collectors.

The museum’s collection is drawn from the around 800 works amassed by Adikoesoemo over a quarter-century, encompassing works by artists from the US, Europe, Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia. Around half of the collection consists of Indonesian art; nurturing the local contemporary scene through its acquisition and education programmes is one of the museum’s aims. Last year, Adikoesoemo was appointed to the board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. He speaks to us about how he got his start in collecting and the artists on his wishlist today.

The Art Newspaper: How did you first get into collecting?

Haryanto Adikoesoemo: In 1992 I visited my friend’s home in Bali and saw how his home was transformed by having paintings on the walls. That was when I decided to start collecting paintings to beautify my home and surroundings.

What was the first piece of art you bought?

It was a work by the Indonesian artist Hendra Gunawan. I purchased it because it was colourful and vibrant and would look even better once hung on the wall.

What is the most valuable work in your collection?

It is difficult to say because, as a collector, the value of art is balanced by the emotion it arouses in me. Some are more valuable to me, no matter what their market price may be.

Which work in your collection requires the most maintenance?

The Indonesian master paintings require the most maintenance. That is because in the 1930s, 40s and 50s when they were made it was challenging for artists to find quality canvas and materials. Additionally, the humid and hot climate in Indonesia requires extra maintenance for preservation.

I have no regrets over any of my acquisitions. If works don’t speak to me, I don’t purchase them.

What is the most recent work you have bought?

A piece by Tadaaki Kuwayama, a Japanese artist who moved to New York in the late 1950s and still lives there now. I bought that piece because of how I regarded him—then and now—as an important artist and one who was recognised as one of the first Minimalists.

If money was no object, what would be your dream purchase?

I would like to acquire as many Western Impressionist paintings as I can. These would also very nicely complement the contemporary art collection at Museum Macan. One of our main objectives is to present Western contemporary and Impressionist works to the Indonesian public, supporting interdisciplinary education and cultural exchange to help foster a better cultural awareness and appreciation for the arts across the country.

Which artists, dead or alive, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would invite Basquiat, Cy Twombly and Francis Bacon to my dream dinner party, and I would ask the three of them to paint at the same time. To me they are all very different and yet similar in their approach to painting, and to be able to witness these artists at work would have been a great pleasure.

Which purchase do you most regret?

So far, I have no regrets over any of my acquisitions. If works don’t speak to me, I don’t purchase them.