DONO, Heri; Campaign of the three parties
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1960, Heri Dono was raised in Semarang, Central Java. Between 1980 and 1987 Dono studied at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta, at a time when Indonesian identity was being debated.
In 1987 Dono met an Indonesian artist who works with wayang puppets, the traditional flat silhouette puppets of Java which are controlled by sticks attached to their jointed limbs. Dono creates bizarre, often comical characters in his drawings, paintings and mechanical installations. Tiny cards printed with mythological characters from wayang are attached on, or near, the figures in this painting Campaign of the three parties; with the use of collage Dono plays out the spectacle of contemporary politics in terms of timeless folk legends.
This work by Dono is based on the artist's impressions of contemporary Indonesian politics in which the red figures represent the Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (PDI), yellow figures represent the Golangan Karya group (GOLKAR), and green signifies the Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP). The white 'superman' figure represents power, the intangible element which each party strives to conquer and control.
Dono's work is closely tied to traditional Javanese culture, which incorporates mythological figures, often part human and part bird or beast, into epic narratives. Society and its foibles are sometimes paralleled or parodied in these stories, which are told by wayang puppeteers in long, complex performances. Dono uses his own bestiary of grotesque beings to comment on the comedy and tragedy of the human condition.
Dono uses imagery from traditional Indonesian folk art as well as the classical fine arts (including the Buddhist and Hindu traditions of this mostly Muslim country), to connect his art with society. Motivated by a love of his country's culture, and the way it permeates humanity, Dono encourages the revival and regeneration of country and village art.
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