Dancing shadows

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Stuffed with fiberglass, a life-sized figure is covered with flowers, one fist clenched while the other carries a pistol. In another exhibit, a man in an odd helmet, sits on a flower-covered rock, his palms turned up in a gesture of acceptance.

These are some of the displays from the exhibition, Under the Shadow, by one of Indonesia's most popular artists Eko Nugroho.

Working with a diverse range of media, the artist's works appear in a variety of forms: paintings, drawings, wall murals, animations, embroidery works, three-dimensional objects and installations.

For much of his artistic career, the 32-year-old has been identified with his unique and genuinely comical figures as his aesthetic statement.

As an Indonesian, he is also interested in exploring his background and has been taking a keen interest in shadow puppets since last year.

"The shadow acts as an important artistic element, forcing an investigation or exploration of light and shadow. On some islands of Indonesia, the main essence of a puppet performance is the representation of the shadows," he says.

In places such as Java and Bali, a shadow puppet performance, accompanied by a traditional orchestra, can go on all through the night.

The audiences can only see the shadow of the puppets. The puppeteer captures their attention with his skillful revealing of the story and his expertise in manipulating the puppet against the light screen.

Puppets displayed in the on-going exhibition are adaptations of Nugroho's comical yet peculiar figures such as the stone-head man, the diamond-heart man and the pincer-hand man, commonly found in his paintings, drawings and embroidery works.

Until Oct 5. Pekin Fine Aets, 241 Caochangdi Village, Cuigezhuang, Chaoyang district, 5127-3220


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