Indonesia b.1960

The artist installing Ceremony of the soul 1995
Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 2002
Queensland Art Gallery
Photograph: Matthew Kassay
Heri Dono works in the low-tech end of multimedia art, using performance, puppets, text, music, sound and mechanical devices to create environments and kinetic sculptures. Dono’s works draw on Indonesian traditions, beliefs and motifs, as well as Western aesthetic principals, narratives and popular culture. Through his expressive personal style, Dono often uses elements of the grotesque to question political institutions and to comment on the human condition. Heri Dono lives and works in Yogyakarta and has exhibited widely.

More information about the artist

Heri Dono
Glass vehicles (detail) 1995
Glass, fibreglass, cloth, lamps, cable, iron, toy carriages
15 units: 125 x 40 x 40cm each
Collection: The artist
Photograph: Matthew Kassay

The artist’s preliminary sketches of Glass vehicles 1995
Courtesy: The artist

Ceremony of the soul 1995, Flying angels 1996 and Glass vehicles 1995 involve the repetition of doll-like figures. These figures represent the Indonesian concept of the everyman, or orang kecil (‘little man’), a concept that privileges collective identity over individual ego. Dono uses these figures to suggest the experience of individuals in mass organisations such as bureaucracies and armies. Ceremony of the soul examines the extreme powerlessness felt by ordinary Indonesians during the 32 years of Suhato’s dictatorship.

Heri Dono
Ceremony of the soul (details)1995
Stone, fibreglass, plastic, radio and tape player, lamps, fans, wood
9 figures: 70 x 60 x 50cm each
Collection: The artist
Photographs: Matthew Kassay

Heri Dono’s figures are human in form but contain mechanical, often clockwork, components. Dono draws on Indonesian wayang puppetry, an art form that traditionally incorporates social commentary. Other sources for his figures include the Western fascination with automata and robots, which questioned the status and actions of human beings.

Heri Dono
Flying angels (details) 1996
Bamboo, fibreglass, electric fan parts, electronic components, fabric
10 units: 60 x 135 x 19cm each
Collection: The artist
Photograph: Matthew Kassay

In his works, Dono often makes use of matrix or grid-like structures. These structures have aesthetic significance in European modernist art as well as having spiritual significance in Indonesian culture in the form of the mandala. Dono also takes inspiration from Western popular culture, with Flying angels 1995 based on the animated Flash Gordon cartoons that he has loved since childhood.

List of works in APT 2002

Artists and Works
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