by Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta
with the support of the Italian Embassy in Jakarta
and the Italian Cultural Institute in Jakarta
Wednesday | August 5th 2020 | 15:30 – 18.00
As part of the preservation of cultural heritage, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta has restored the phenomenal paintings of Lee Man Fong. The restoration was carried out on the beautiful painting “Margasatwa dan Puspita Indonesia”.
This very large painting, measuring 4 metres x 10.85 metres (and this is one of the largest paintings in the world), consists of three rather curved panels and is located at the top of the wall facing the entrance foyer Bali Room – Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta.
The painting, which depicts the rich flora and fauna in Indonesia, has been completely restored, with the restoration, begun in July 2019, having taken up to one year.
Opening remarks by H.E. Benedetto Latteri
Ambassador of Italy in Jakarta
“Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
today is exactly one month since my arrival in Jakarta, and this webinar is my very first social appearance since then. So, what a spectacular occasion for me to start my mission in Indonesia with a cultural event!!! Italy is after all a cultural superpower. My colleague, Mrs. Maria Battaglia, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Jakarta, will speak in a moment about the Italian cultural diplomacy including during Covid lockdown. I will focus on today’s event from a more general perspective. The occasion today is the public presentation of the restoration work of the Masterpiece “Margasatwa dan Puspita Indonesia” by the Indonesian Maestro Lee Man Fong. Despite its artistic and historical significance, this 3-panel painting was in very poor conditions. The restoration work has been achieved by Michaela Anselmini. I am particularly proud for the one-year-long work done by Michaela; her work reflects how far Italy has gone in terms of technology and skills in art preservation and restoration. As you can easily realize, I personally have done nothing, but the Embassy of Italy, together with the Italian Cultural Institute in Jakarta, have been very close to Mrs. Anselmini and the Sarasvati company during this project, the last of many important projects already achieved by Michaela in Indonesia. You should really talk with her and feel her passion and learning all the technical challenges she had to overcome during this work. Touching, really. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve just learned that the Indonesian poet and writer Ajip Rosidi, who just passed away, put a lot of effort in preserving culture for the sake of country heritage. Even though he was referring mainly to literature/language preservation, you can apply the same concept to any path of culture. Michaela’s work gives back to the public the beauty and diversity of Indonesian flora and wild life in the most vivid way, reminding us all – for example – of the unique babirusa, an animal almost extinct. I think that this is all about a masterpiece and consequently its restoration: transmission of values, be it global, spiritual, national, personal, etc., to be passed on to future generations.
In Italy, we believe that art preservation and restoration are highly specialized skills of fundamental importance for national identity, community and territory. They preserve and pass on to future generations our collective memory. To a different level, art preservation and restoration generate a unique industry, with skills and technological equipment top of the class. On another level, art preservation and restoration have become fundamental for investors in art masterpieces in order to keep the value of their investments. When the public sector fails, very often private mecenatism fill in the gap for personal profit but in the process also the national heritage gets a benefit. People, institutions, companies, experts in Italy, are ready to share the Italian model and to transfer their know-how to sensible people and institutions around the world. In that view, thanks also to today’s event, I do hope that Indonesia realized what huge potential is there for the launching of an art preservation and restoration sector. I reiterate my compliments to all parts involved in the achievement of this restoration project”.
“Margasatwa dan Puspita Indonesia at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta”
First opened and inaugurated by President Soekarno on 5 August 1962, Hotel Indonesia has been designed as a modern hotel that reflects the beauty of the archipelago’s charm and cultural diversity in Indonesia. This is reflected in one of the hotel walls, which is still displaying a number of works of Indonesian artists, including the panel paintings “Margasatwa dan Puspita Indonesia” by Lee Man Fong (1913–1988). When Hotel Indonesia was built, Bung Karno asked Lee to make this painting and hoped that it would become the largest painting in Indonesia. A commissioned work made at the request of President Soekarno was done by Lee Man Fong (LMF) while four assistants, namely Lim Wa Sim, Tjio Soen Djie, Siauw Swie Ching and Lee Rern, assisted in the process until the work was completed in 1962. The publication of this work was also included in one of the Presidential Palace’s collection books, at a time when LMF worked as a palace painter and professional painter in the universe of Indonesian painting. His attitude and artistry are undoubtedly amazing considering that a lot of his works were produced in the face of the historical, social and economic problems that resulted from the impact that industrialisation had in the fine arts field.
Of further interest is that the physical condition of the painting “Margasatwa dan Puspita Indonesia” was affected after Hotel Indonesia underwent several renovations, until finally, Hotel Indonesia decided to restore the painting through a professional painting restoration process. Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta entrusted the work of conservation and restoration of this masterpiece painting to Michaela Anselmini, an Italian restorer who opened a restoration studio in Indonesia, where she now lives. Furthermore, she was determined to restore the Great Painting of Lee Man Fong very carefully and not to change the original work. However, to preserve and maintain one of these masterpieces in Indonesia requires a synergy in the painting restoration process that cannot be separated from the involvement of various institutions and scientific disciplines.
Therefore, on this webinar occasion, conservation activities in LMF’s work were not only placed as a case study of the process of maintaining or saving an art work, but were understood more broadly with regard to the role of national policies on a scale that enabled positive synergies to develop conservation studies and preservation of works of art and awareness of the values of national cultural heritage, especially for the fine arts college environment. In this case, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta and the Restoration team which is part of the world community, certainly cannot be separated from their roles and responsibilities for the maintenance, saving the work of the nation’s children in order to face the challenges of changing times, so as to realize the synergy between art, science, technology and humanities that benefit the wider community. Speakers were invited to discuss further about how to understand the existing work in the context of history, preservation, conservation and studies on the conservation of art and culture in relation to the concept of spatial planning, communication and the dignity of artists, in the fulfillment of their artistic potential as one of the national cultural heritages that is meaningful for the progress of the nation.
- Erwin Hendrawan – Representative of Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta – Background behind the initiative of the conservation project of Lee Man Fong’s painting at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta
- H. E. Benedetto Latteri – Ambassador of Italy to Indonesia – Short remarks to the viewers
- Maria Battaglia – Director of Istituto Italiano di Cultura Jakarta – Short remarks on the role of the Italian cultural centre in cultural diplomacy
- Dr A. Rikrik Kusmara, M. Sn. – Dean of FSRD ITB – Introduction to the challenge of fine arts colleges in developing the discipline of arts and culture conservation in the context of cooperation between institutions
- Lin Che Wei – Founder of Sarasvati Art Communication and Publication – Short remarks
- Dr Oei Hong Djien – Founder of OHD Museum – Short brief introduction to Lee Man Fong from the art collectors’ point of view
- Hilmar Farid – Director General of Culture, the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture – Explanation and Issue of National Policies Regarding the Conservation of Arts and Culture in Indonesia
- Michaela Anselmini – Art Restoration Studio Sarasvati Art – Presentation and experience of the restoration of Lee Man Fong’s paintings from the Hotel Indonesia collection, Kempinski
- Jim Supangkat – Independent Curator – Discussion of Lee Man Fong’s paintings from the Hotel Indonesia collection, Kempinski from the aesthetic field, changes in social cultural values and historical awarenes
- Dikdik Sayahdikumullah, M. Sn., Ph.D. – Head of Visual Art Program FSRD ITB
Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta in collaboration with Fakultas Seni Rupa dan Desain ITB
Pusat Kebudayaan Italia (Istituto Italiano Di Cultura), Jakarta.