Indonesian contemporary art

Contemporary art from Indonesia: previous >

Heri Dono

Heri Dono: Indonesian contemporary art

A leading practitioner of Indonesian art since the 1980s, Dono's work is inspired by traditional wayang puppetry, a craft in which he was trained by one of its masters.

Dono's grotesques meld a dizzying abundance of visual reference ranging from western pop iconography to the supernatural protagonists of Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Prominent, too, is the emblematic 'orang kecil' or 'little man' - an asexual human figure roughly equivalent to the western notion of the 'Everyman'.

Using these figures to instigate trenchant commentary on topics encompassing political intrigue, social critique and more generalised overviews of the fusion of cultures and influences informing modern Indonesia, Dono's colourful, vivacious practice is an undoubted highlight of contemporary art from the region.

Heri Dono
Heri Dono
Heri Dono: Indonesian contemporary artists

Theo Frids Hutabarat

Theo Frids Hutabarat: Indonesian contemporary art

An emerging figurative painter with a passion for Egon Schiele, Theo Frids Hutabarat literally positions himself within the Viennese master's works by producing records of Schiele's paintings projected onto his body.

It's a simple idea, but an effective one, the resulting mélange of limbs, gender, ethnicity and painterly style a powerful commentary on the widespread assimilation of non-indigenous art within current Indonesian practice.

It's an approach, too, that's refreshingly unlike the countless cultural mash-ups that attempt similar readings through formulaic adoption of western-inflected iconography.

In many ways, Schiele as symbol provides as pertinent a commentary on contemporary Indonesia as Mickey Mouse ears or an ersatz Banksy: images that once shocked European society are highly emblematic of seismic change, a precursor of startling shifts in western moral and social systems.

Theo Frids Hutabarat
Theo Frids Hutabarat
Theo Frids Hutabarat


New art from Indonesia: Erianto

Emerging artist Erianto's trompe l'oeil paintings are meticulously painted replicas of the cardboard packages and wooden crates used to transport artworks.

First created in exasperated response to the often-damaged parcels returning his (unsold) paintings from exhibiting galleries, Erianto's works serve as a kind of tongue-in-cheek art career idealisation, bearing the labels of top institutions such as MoMA, the Saatchi Gallery, Christie's and Sotheby's, or the addresses of well-known Indonesian collectors.

But there's a serious side to the works, too. Written instructions to treat the 'packaging' with due care always appears to have been heeded (another fantasy, perhaps?), while the blue chip shipping destinations are not simply representative of one artist's dream, but a very real reflection of the global reach and importance Indonesian art is beginning to command.

New art from Indonesia: Erianto
New art from Indonesia: Erianto
New art from Indonesia: Erianto

Ariadhitya Pramuhendra

Ariadhitya Pramuhendra: Indonesian contemporary artists

Inspired both by old master works and his Catholic faith (as well as, by implication, the difficulties encountered by a religious minority in predominantly Muslim Indonesia), Ariadhitya Pramuhendra's dramatically lit charcoal on canvas images transpose an established body of religious iconography and related art histories into wholly contemporary portraits of himself and family members.

Many of the works are shown alongside the charred remains of items both secular and/or spiritual - a bathtub or dining table; a church confessional and pew - which not only reference the charcoal Pramuhendra favours as a medium, but hint at darker subtexts such as church burnings by Muslim radicals.

Pramuhendra, perhaps understandably, is careful to distance himself from overtly political readings, claiming consistently (and reasonably) that the 'ashes to ashes' symbolism in his practice chimes with Christian orthodoxies as well as his own beliefs. "Burning is not negative, to me," says the artist. "We burn the people who have died; it's purification to keep us aligned with nature..."

Ariadhitya Pramuhendra
Ariadhitya Pramuhendra
Ariadhitya Pramuhendra

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