POST A: Indonesian Culture and Street Art

(Indonesian Street Collective, 2015)
(Indonesian Street Collective, 2015)

Street art in Indonesia has matched global growth accelerating from 1990 – now. This was around the Raformasi period (LEE, D 2013), a time of economic crisis in the region, political chaos and bloody confrontations that led to the downfall of Soeharto’s 30 year reign.

Between 1998 and 2003 street art was largely more political, driven by the student movements and protests at this time. After the fall of Soeharto’s reign marked a new freedom of expression(LEE, D 2013), beginning a new era of creativity that would transformed Indonesia’s cultural scene, with cities such as Yogykarta becoming a hub for art, design and culture.(LEE, D 2013)


These days Yogyakarta is plastered with street art in many forms, whether socio-political or just for pure self expression just as most cities in the world are. But unlike most cities the freedom is more apparent , this is highlighted in an exhibition held from July to August in 2010, the Salihara gallery in South Jakarta, hosted an exhibition entitled Wall Street Arts. The exhibition featured seven artists from Indonesia and six artists from France. one of the most memorable moments was a mural painted on an overpass across the road from the South Jakarta’s prestigious Cilandak Town Square. The Mural was a collaborative project between French and Indonesian artists that was sanctioned off and protected by the local police while they defaced public property for the event. The french artists stunned compared to Paris where they are hunted and hold marginal positions in French society. They were to see to the spatial and cultural openness that Indonesian street artists enjoy. (LEE, D 2013)


Popo one of the most prolific street artists in Indonesia believe that “any graffiti, from the most primitive signature to the highly elaborate tags that follow global graffiti styles and conventions, could be considered street art as long as there is a discernible aesthetic to it. One does not have to be an artist to make street art. Anyone can do it.”  For these events many gatherings occur throughout the year, with many gatherings of youth’s sticking together and forming groups such as the Anti Tank Project, most of which talk about political issues in their everyday life(MOCA, 2013,). Community is a a major part of the street culture, with most of them meeting online, or through websites and facebook groups such as the indonesian street collective.


Apart from the local youth culture and street “artists” like POPO, Indonesian street art also has commercial aspect to it on a global scale. An artists who demonstrates this is Eko Nugroho a Post Raformasi artist who mixes pop influences with Indonesian Motifs, touching on issues of identity and democracy(Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia. ) much like the work of Camille Rose Garcia an American artists who uses Disney inspired pop culture references to make social commentary.


Nugroho-  ”I like strong visuals. I’ve never used such strong colors before, sometime they are hurting the eyes, but the underlying idea is still about democracy and the freedom,” (Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia.)


Nugroho has collaborated with some major artists around the world, but one project that stands out to me is the collaboration between Nugroho and Luis Vuitton where the creature portrayed on this scarf is “a compilation of the democratic idea’s in Indonesia, colorful and complicated, a symbol of today’s society,” Mr. Nugroho said in a recent interview in Singapore. ”Our democracy is still very young, not fixed yet.”  and to put those political views into the world stage is a mighty feat.(Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia. )

(Hamdani,S, 2013)
(Hamdani,S, 2013)


I have only touched the surface of street art and the growing freedom and popularity of it in Indonesian culture, but am very interested in how it shows the development of a free and artistic nation.


Indonesian Stret Art Database, 2015, Viewed 30th April 2015 <>

LEE, D 2013, ”Anybody Can Do It’: Aesthetic Empowerment, Urban Citizenship, and the Naturalization of Indonesian Graffiti and Street Art’, City & Society, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 304-327. Available from: 10.1111/ciso.12024. [28th april 2015].

MOCA, 2013, “Global Street Art – Jogja – Art In The Streets – MOCAtv”, Viewed 27th, April 2015, <>

Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia. “Street Artist Mixes Pop With Motifs of Indonesia.” New York Times 18 Sept. 2013: NA(L). Expanded Academic ASAP, Viewed 28th may 2015 <>

HamdaniS, 2013, “Louis Vuitton Draws on Indonesian Artistic Talent”, viewed 28th April 2015, <;


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