Artist spotlight: Heri Dono

22.06.2015

In constant search of the most unique contemporary artists from global emerging markets, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection is delighted to dedicate this spotlight to the veteran Indonesian artist Heri Dono, from whom we have recently acquired two paintings. 

Left: Heri DonoThe Skeleton Angel, 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm.            Right: The Monkey Astronaut, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, 198 x 149 cm.

Born in Jakarta in 1960, graduated from the Indonesian Institute of Art in Yogyakarta, Heri Dono has been recognized both in the international and Indonesian contemporary art scene for his distinctive style blending elements of
Wayang, the Javanese traditional shadow-puppetry theatre, together with features of Western modernism, post-expressionism and cubism.

The playful imagery conveyed in his paintings, performances and multi–media installations hide a complex visual symbolism that serves to represent contemporary issues. His urge to probe the socio–political reality derives from the particular experience of living from a young age under the authoritarian regime of Suharto and witnessing a democratic process that has failed to mature.

Having studied Wayang puppetry for several years, which has been long associated with political expression and social commentary, Dono uses this art as a celebration of his native identity. With this choice, Dono distances himself from the New Art Movement that in the seventies and eighties shelved traditional Asian iconographies in favor of Western modern forms of      expression. This special approach makes him the leading voiceof a new generation of Indonesian artists who want to break free from contemporary Western modes while embracing an interesting fusion of local and global artistic practices. 

In his works, the artist challenges the Western perspective and often naive interpretation of Asian culture offering a new point of view that highlights the tense relation between past and future, tradition and modernity. Through this innovative and eclectic experiment,Dono proposes a personal and ironic version of how Western icons and myths are perceived in the Indonesian society.   

Intrigued by the uniqueness of Dono’s language, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection has recently acquired two of his paintings: Skeleton Angel and Monkey Astronaut. These two masterpieces stand out for their vivid colors and the bold juxtaposition of the Javanese mythology aesthetic with futuristic elements which are drawn from the artist’s passion for science fiction.Fascinated by human endeavors into outer space and reviving his childhood fantasies of living on a different planet, the author imagines hybrid creatures that place the spectator in a blurry dimension between fantasy and reality. Combining within the same frame the skeleton with the angel or the monkey with low tech astronaut equipment, he creates a very strong metaphor for human vulnerability mingling symbols of hope and freedom.

                                                    

Heri Dono,Voyage (Installation view), 56th Venice Biennale

Intrigued by the uniqueness of Dono’s language, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection has recently acquired two of his paintings: The Skeleton Angel and The Monkey Astronaut. These two masterpieces stand out for their vivid colors and the bold juxtaposition of the Javanese mythology aesthetic with futuristic elements which are drawn from the artist’s passion for science fiction.Fascinated by human endeavors into outer space and reviving his childhood fantasies of living on a different planet, the author imagines hybrid creatures that place the spectator in a blurry dimension between fantasy and reality. Combining within the same frame the skeleton with the angel or the monkey with low tech astronaut equipment, he creates a very strong metaphor for human vulnerability mingling symbols of hope and freedom.

Since his first showings in the early 1980s, Heri Dono has exhibited extensively around the world, participating in more than 270 exhibitions including numerous international biennials.Featuring among the most internationally active South East Asian contemporary artists, Dono has been nominated to represent Indonesia in the current Venice Biennale (May 9 – November 22, 2015) with a solo exhibition titled VoyageTrokomod. His artworks will also be exhibited in a special single–artist exhibition Animachines (March 28– June 28, 2015) at Färgfabriken in Stockholm, Sweden.

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