Heri Dono Dancing Demons and Drunken Deities
 

Puppets and power are the themes of this exhibition of Indonesian artist, Heri Dono. The puppetry comes from Dono's training in the making and use of Indonesian shadow puppets. He uses the curly forms of shadow puppets in his paintings and uses mechanical puppetry in his sculptural installations. Dono incorporates parody and humor into his installations and paintings to comment on the political turmoil of current Indonesian politics and the repression of the past.

In Dono's paintings dragons, monsters and men are viewed side on, yet depicted with two eyes. As in the flat screen of shadow puppetry, there is no attempt to create three dimensional space. Depicted here are the generals and power brokers of Indonesian political life stylized as monsters from the shadow puppet world.

Dono's sculptural installations are mechanical magic -- angels float with their wings flapping and squeaking and their faces are all sweetness and innocence. Exposed on their backs are the lines that control their wings. Dono suggests that perhaps even angels are merely puppets of more powerful forces who "pull the strings." The works of Heri Dono appear crude in their construction. However, this rawness gives them an innocence and a craft-like attraction. He ingeniously uses simple, rustic materials such as stone, wood and cotton cloth to construct marvelous mechanical sculptures that delight in their quirky movement. The mechanisms of gears and wires in the workings are not hidden. It is important for Dono to expose the power behind the scenes -- to show the strings that control the puppets.

 

 

 

 

Eyes -- false glass eyes -- scan the room and the visitors as they enter Dono's expansive exhibition. These eyes, a recent installation titled "Watching the Marginal People" (2000), are mechanically attached to monstrous teeth. The eyes are of the government authorities who watch for dissent and the teeth are the government's enforcers ready to devour those with deviant thoughts. Indonesia has suffered terrible repression. Artists such as Heri Dono have struggled to create art in a climate of subjection and repression. Dono has emerged from such adversity with a strong voice for freedom and with a cheeky sense of humor that pervades all his art.
Japan Foundation Akasaka Twin Towers 2-17-22 Akasaka Minato-ku Tel: 03.5562.3892 Tameike-Sanno Station Open:11.00-19.00, Closed Sundays Adults 400, Children under 15 free -----through November 18  

 

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