Nugroho’s installations and performances have their roots in the shadow puppet rituals in Indonesia, particularly the Javanese Wayang tradition whose essence is in the representation of the shadows. Nugroho’s work both preserves traditional culture and offers a contemporary interpretation of it through his insertion of comical figures to comment on current social conditions. Moving Landscape includes characters such as a diamond-headed man, a UFO, and other items that appear frequently in Nugroho’s drawings and murals.
Working with a variety of media including comics, animation, mural painting, graffiti, embroidery, video, and puppetry, Yogyakarta-based artist Eko Nugroho comments on social justice, cultural tradition, and the human condition. The concepts, materials, and strategies of his oeuvre reflect a sophisticated understanding of “fine art,” crafts, as well as street art. For example, Nugroho’s use of embroidery is inspired by local street gangs whose jackets are embroidered with their logos and by the embroidered badges worn by local government officials to announce their affiliations. After the Indonesian Reformation in 1998, Nugroho started to use caricature in his work to criticize the government’s policies about democracy, freedom, and censorship. These metamorphic figures, their surroundings, and the idioms indicate the dysfunction of contemporary Indonesian society as well as the tribulations of the world at large.