Allegro Print, Singapore, 2016, 131 pp.
Known for his fantastical installations and visual commentaries on socio-political issues and human behaviour, Heri Dono’s latest print and paper explorations in “Zaman Edan” (The Age of Craziness) is steeped in the playful satire often associated with his hybrid characters and pop culture motifs.
This body of work is a spirited portrayal of ‘madness’, told through the interplay of new techniques and materials, as well as the artist’s use of the Javanese shadow puppet theatre known as wayang kulit. According to curator and writer Jim Supangkat, they “triggered previously unexplored ideas and sensibilities” and is “perhaps the first time that beautiful colours and nuances appear” in his practice.
These multifaceted personas and narratives allude to the twisted logic of an “upside down” mind as a whole, taking “a position of resistance against a hegemonic discourse or perspective” that destabilises binaries of right and wrong, good and evil. In doing so, they reflect the truth of human complexities. As Singapore Art Museum curator Tan Siuli states, Heri puts forward ‘madness’ as “a necessary state of being” that ironically “brings greater clarity and consciousness.”
The phrase ‘zaman edan’ is extracted from the Serat Kalatidha, a 19th century poem written by Javanese poet and mystic Ronggowarsito that describes living in a time of disorder. However the exhibition is not just an illustration of tempestuous times throughout history. As Tan suggests, “it may also be interpreted as an age that calls for heightened self-awareness and perhaps an unconventional way of looking at and thinking about things so as to cut through the discord and perceive their essence.” It may mean “to turn accepted narratives on their head and to apprehend the world through the eyes of a ‘fool’.”
Includes photographs of final works and essays by Tan Siuli and Jim Supangkat.