The dean of Indonesian art collectors, Dr. Oei Hong Djien celebrated his 73rd birthday by opening a new branch of his private museum, in his Central Java hometown of Magelang. The dedicated space is a large modern-style cube dubbed the OHD Museum. It is a 45-minute journey by car, traffic permitting, from Yogyakarta and near the legendary Borobudur temple.
Oei, who is a retired physician and tobacco farmer, began collecting long before the Indonesian art boom. He acquired his first painting in the mid-1960s, but only began collecting in earnest in the early 1980s. Today Oei’s holdings are well over 1,200 works of 20th and 21st century Indonesian art, the largest of its kind in the world.
For many years, Oei was the principal patron of Indonesia’s many artists, and opened his home frequently to the share his collection with the public. Last year, however, he embarked on creating a separate, stand alone exhibition space for his collection.
OHD Museum was inaugurated on April 5, Oei’s birthday, with the entire village of Magelang in attendance at the officiating ceremony.
Many artists, collectors and dealers from Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Bali, as well as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, participated in the opening.
The inaugural show “Back to Basics” was a display of his impressive holdings of modern Indonesian masters. Highlights included some of the finest examples of works by historically significant artists including Affandi, Hendra Gunawan, Sindoutomo Sudjojono and Haji Widayat. Here a museum docent welcomes guests in front of a Gunawan painting.
The highlight of the evening was Oei’s birthday party in a temporary venue that also featured a display of some of his contemporary Indonesian art. Again, the entire village was invited.
A photo-collage lightbox by Yogyakarta-based artist Angki Purbandono, comprised of vintage and recent photos from Oei’s photo archive.
Oei’s other passion is ballroom dancing. Immediately behind the contemporary exhibition, there was a massive dance floor where Oei and his guests danced the night away.
Oei may have been one of the oldest people present, but he displayed remarkable, youthful energy.