faces&places - Volume 1 Number 2 : November 2010
In Business As in Life, The Art Rules
Renowned architect and gallery owner Hendra Hadiprana reveals to Grace Susetyo how his passion for beauty has guided him.
Galeri Hadiprana, nestled in the center of Kemang, is the oldest gallery dedicated to fine arts in Indonesia. For almost half a century, it has stood as a testament to the enduring conviction of a single man – Hendra Hadiprana – that the best of Indonesia’s creative talent needs a place to be seen and sold.
Were it not for his determination to retain control of the gallery he founded, it might never have moved to Kemang in the late 1990s, and might even have slipped out of the grasp of his family, the 82-year-old architect said in an interview with Kemang Buzz.
When the move to Kemang was being planned, the business was in crisis and Hendra was preoccupied with work at his architecture and interior design firm, Grahacipta Hadiprana. So his children suggested giving up the gallery. He would have none of it, recalls his daughter Puri.
Faced with his determination, they came up with a novel solution that would generate the income needed to preserve the gallery – locate it within a boutique mall with shop space for aesthetically minded clients and decorate the common space within it as a gallery. The result was an icon of modern Kemang, Mitra Hadiprana, a thriving haven for the artistic soul.
That marriage of business and art, though, is more than a story of the rescue of Galeri Hadiprana. It is a fable of the life of Hendra himself, who has had a distinguished career as a successful architect and interior designer while at the same time indulging his passion for Indonesian art and promoting the works of local artists.
Hendra, who now divides his time between his Jakarta gallery and Ubud, where he shops for paintings, attributes his love for the arts to his studies in the Netherlands in the 1950s. “While studying architectural engineering in Groningen, friends invited me to art exhibitions in town and I became a regular,” he recalls.
He returned to Indonesia in 1958, because his aging father’s health was deteriorating. He initially worked for a French architect in Karawang, but had to quit when his family needed him on hand in Jakarta.
Looking for work, Hendra and a friend rode a motorcycle around town, cold-calling potential clients. “God really blessed our efforts,” he says. “We sealed deals to renovate the homes of several prominent names,” says Hendra, reminiscing on the beginnings of what would become Grahacipta Hadiprana.
But Hendra says he felt like a foreigner in Jakarta, because he had spent most of his adult life in Europe. “My uncle told me that in order to appreciate the local culture, one must delve into the arts,” he says. His uncle lent him the Mahabharata epic, which Hendra says he read with enthusiasm in his attempt to understand the Indonesian philosophy of life. He says he now views the work as a second bible and preaches it with passion, identifying Kresna and Arjuna as his favorite characters from the epic.
Subsequently, Hendra began attending Indonesian art exhibitions and admiring the prodigious masterpieces of local artists. “Even if I couldn’t afford to buy a painting, I would jot down the names of my favorite painters and keep a lookout for them.”
As his architectural firm became more successful, Hendra’s passion for the arts began to fuse with his business, enabling him to package his engineering services with tasteful interior design. He says his favorite part of working with residential or commercial clients was when he would select paintings for homes and businesses.
At the same time, the painters Hendra had come to know in Bali found the going tough due to the economic crisis during the turbulent 1960s.They pleaded with Hendra to establish a classy art gallery in Indonesia that would enable them to display and sell their works. With financial support from businessman Oetojo Goemilang, Hendra founded Prasta Pandawa Gallery in Jl. Paletehan, South Jakarta, in 1962. It was later renamed Galeri Hadiprana.
While paintings by reputable artists were coveted, many clients did not have the budget for them, Hendra says. But because he was familiar with many young artists whom he felt had potential, he says he helped them gain prominence by selling their works to clients on a tight budget. Some later achieved fame, such as Soeparto, Made Gunawan and Bonuz Sudiana.
As Hendra’s art gallery thrived, so too did his design firm. Grahacipta Hadiprana landed prestigious projects such as the design for The Chedi Club in Bali, Plaza Indonesia and Gereja Kemayoran.
However, Hendra says his favorite project was the refurbishment of the presidential palace for then president B.J. Habibie after the fall of Suharto. “I picked the artwork for the president’s bedroom and designed some of the security features,” he says.
Today, the spry Hendra, who looks a good 20 years younger than he is, sits astride both a successful design business and a location in Kemang that is both a symbol of his passion for Indonesian art and an outlet for local artists.
The 240 employees of Mitra Hadiprana and the 80 at Grahacipta Hadiprana are to him a second family, he says. Asked what is the key to successfully managing them, he says, “Be a role model. Take care of your people. Show your people they are appreciated.”
“Treat your people fairly and meet their needs,” he adds. “When you are not able to, gently explain your situation to them in a way that lets them know that they are still appreciated and high on your list of priorities, and make it a point to develop understanding.
“Commit to your people and become someone worth emulating, and God will bless you,” Hendra says. Grace Susetyo
Like Father, Like Daughter – And More One can tell that a great man has been successful if he raises a child who is as great as he. While very much in the image of her father, Hendra Hadiprana’s youngest daughter, Puri, has found ultimate freedom in her own life and career, she tells Grace Susetyo.
Drawing From The Heart Moreza’s artworks are accessible to all, evoking a sense of imagination in the young and nostalgia in adults.
Seeing the world through the excitement and innocence of childhood is what inspires the work of the artist who calls himself Moreza, writes Angela Dewan
mykemang Long before drinking outdoors became trendy, the bar Lapan Anem (“86”) was already serving cold beer in the rain. Tongkol is a veteran bartender there. You wouldn’t guess that he’s pushing 40, but he puts his youthfulness down to his balance of work and pleasure. Tongkol sat at the bar with us and shared his stories, favorite drinks and his views on living and working in Kemang.