Heri Dono

August 4, 2009

Heri Dono, Criticism in Humor

After Raden Saleh and Affandi, are there any Indonesian artists with international reputation? Yes, some of them are Heri Dono, Agus Suwage, Dede Supria, Tisna Sanjaya and Eddie Hara. They are one generation which show their works in public space start from 1980th and since 1990th known well internationally. They also work in contemporary art with their each special characteristic in using expression media and philosophical approach. Heri Dono is the youngest but his achievements are so impressive.

Heri Dono

Heri Dono

Born in Jakarta, in 1960, Heri Dono obtained painting art education formally in Yogyakarta. Since graduated from ISI (The Art Institute of Indonesia) Yogyakarta up to now Heri Dono has been living in the city of culture and education.

His career internationally started from 1990-1991 when he took the International Artist Exchange Program in Basel, Switzerland. In this period he had a chance to make solo exhibition in Museum of Der Kulturen, Basel, entitled “Unknown Dimensions”.   Since that time he were often invited to exhibit his works in various countries. In the latest thirty years Heri Dono has followed tens of prestigious events around the world.

Some of them are Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2006), Bienale Internationale Dell’ Arte Contemporania, Fortezza da Basso, Firenza, Italy (2005), Venice Biennale, Italy (2003), Asia Pasific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2002), Yokohama Triennal, Yokohama, Japan (2001).

A lot of awards nationally and internationally he received are  acknowledgement to his important role in contemporary art world. Some of the awards are Academic Art Awards, Professional Artist, Program A-2, FSR ISI Yogyakarta and  Jogja Gallerry, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Second Annual Enku Grand Awards, Gifu Perfectural Government, Japan; Unesco Prize for the International Art Biennal, Shanghai, China; and Prince Claus Award, in Recognition of Exeptional Initiatives and Activities in the Field of Art and Development, The Netherlands.heridono2008

Heri Dono is known with his works which are based on traditional art, partly the most popular tradional art in Java, Indonesia, ‘wayang kulit’. Wayang kulit is art performance of ‘shadows’ which  the figures in its story made from animal leather such as buffalo’s. In wayang performance the figures are projected to a wide cloth so make shadows. The word of ‘wayang’ itself means ‘shadows’.   In the wayang art performance there are some artistic elements such as ‘gamelan’ music (Javanese orchestra music), songs, story telling and theatre. The story in wayang performance is taken from Mahabharata and Ramayana epic.

In his works Heri often explores the shapes and characters of the figures in wayang kulit,  especially the figures of “Panakawan”. Panakawan, there are four figures, represent ordinary people. They always follow as servants of good figures such as ‘Pandawa Lima’ (the five brother knights of Pandawa). As servants Panakawan do not only serve to their boss, but also often give advices and also criticism. Panakawan’s criticism is always presented in humor.

Trough visual art Heri Dono wants to be ‘Panakawan’ who always presents critical opinion for society and whoever holding the power. Heri Dono thinks that the role of an artist is like as ‘Panakawan’ who can be an entertainer and a critic. In his works we always find his criticism about many kind of problem such as social, cultural and political problem, environtment and technology development. Like as ‘Panakawan’ Heri Dono presents his criticism in humor. So whoever observe his works – painting, installation and performance arts – he or she can smile even if the works  criticize something.

See other painter profile: Afffandi, Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Kartika Affandi, Rudolf  Bonnet, Walter Spies, S Sudjojono

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One Response to Heri Dono

  1. Nabila Mahdi on October 29, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Dear sir or madam,

    I am a student at the british international school Jakarta, currently i am enduring an extended essay for 4000 words long. it revolves around Heri Dono and Entang Wiharso as Indonesian artists. I would like to use this piece of information/article that is entitled to your website as a background of my research, is it possible that you can allow me to use parts it for my essay? thank you very much,

    Nabila Mahdi

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