Heri Dono (b. 1960) is a leading Yogyakarta-based contemporary artist, and the first Indonesian to break into the global art scene during the early 1990s. He is a member of the generation of Indonesian artists that began their careers in the 1980s. Since his early career, he has traveled around the world to exhibit and respond to workshop invitations from various countries.
Dono is well known in the international contemporary arts community for his installation works, many of which were inspired by his experiments with wayang, the complex shadow puppet theater of Java. Wayang performances are comprised of a number of artistic and non-artistic elements: visual arts, singing, music, storytelling, social criticism, humor and for the mythological promotion of a philosophy of life. These components are merged into the artwork’s narrative to give a generic interpretation to which elements of multimedia are added. Coupled with the setting of a wayang performance event, this provides a space for social interactions among the audience. These creative artworks express Dono’s interest in revitalizing arts that are deeply rooted in Indonesian traditions.
In many of his installations and performances, Heri Dono effectively makes use of ‘performativity and interactivity potencies’, so that the works are involved in complimentary dialogs with their audience.
In his paintings, Dono makes the most use of wild deformations and freestyle fantasies out of which emerge characters from the wayang stories. To this, he adds his profound knowledge and interest in childrens’ cartoons, animation films, and comics. Dono’s canvases are always filled with astonishing characters that intertwine both fantastic and absurd stories. Into these, Dono will sometimes insert his own critical remarks on socio-political issues in Indonesia and abroad.
Dono’s awards include the Dutch Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development (1998), the UNESCO Prize (2000), and the Anugerah Adhikarya Rupa (Visual Arts Award) from the Indonesian government (2014). He has participated in more than 300 exhibitions and 35 international biennales include Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Bangkok Art Biennale (2018), the 50th Venice Biennale in the Arsenale’s Zone of Urgency (2003), Guangzhou Triennial (2011); Gwangju Biennale (2006 and 1995); Sharjah Biennial (2005); Taipei Biennial (2004); Venice Biennale (2003); Asia Pacific Triennial (2002 and 1993); Yokohama Triennial (2001); Havana Biennial (2000); Shanghai Biennale (2000); Sydney Biennale (1996); São Paolo Biennial (2004 and 1996).