Creating New Looks For a Fast-Food Icon
The smiling Ronald McDonald statue is frozen in one of its classic poses, with one hand waving and the other placed on his hip. His yellow suit clashes with his bright red hair.
But unlike the usual statue found at the American fast-food chain, this one sports a beard that covers his face and dons red thong underwear and a checkered shirt. A huge, black lizard is painted on his chest.
The thong-wearing Ronald is only one of the many customized statues at Yogyakata’s Taman Budaya, or Culture Park. Every statue has the same pose, but they all have a different look. One has leaves covering his body. Another is painted green from head to toe to show the painter’s support for the environment. Yet another is wearing a sporty jacket and has a face like Spiderman’s.
The statues are part of a program at the ongoing Biennale X in Yogyakarata — a biannual art and culture festival — to let young artists recreate the look of the iconic Ronald McDonald.
All these statues come from Leonardo Art House, a company founded by Herry Maizul. Herry, a local statue maker, who previously supplied statues for the McDonald’s franchise in Indonesia and other parts of Asia. He also supplies statues to other fast-food chains, including A&W, Texas Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Super Kitchen.
Born and raised in Padang, West Sumatra, Herry said his interest in art began as a child. He went to a Yogyakarta high school that specialized in art and he continued his education at Indonesia’s Art Institute in the same city. He currently lives in Bantul, south of Yogyakarta, where he built a workshop to produce his statues with the help of additional staff.
He said he began creating statues for McDonald’s after meeting Bambang Rachmadi, a McDonald’s franchise license holder in Indonesia at the time, during an exhibition in 1994.
Bambang bought one of Herry’s statues, a work in bronze called “Peragawati” (“Model”).
When Herry delivered the statue, Bambang asked him to create a statue of Ronald McDonald. Bambang liked the creation so much that Herry became the regular statue supplier for the restaurants.
When he realized that his statues had reached the standard required by the burger giant, Herry said he contacted other fast-food chains to offer his creations, and his career grew from there.
In 2001, McDonald’s International asked him to become their statue supplier for the Asia Pacific region. Soon, he was producing hundreds of statues of Ronald McDonald, Birdie, Grimace and other McDonald’s characters each month, sending them overseas.
But this year, a problem left Herry stuck with about 600 Ronald statues.
Herry declined to give details of how this came about, but of the 600 surplus Ronalds, he donated 40 to the biennale.
He also designed a surfing Ronald sculpture for the festival. The fiberglass statue is about five meters high, installed on a street corner in Sangkringan, one of four main biennale venues. The sculpture is titled “Ending of the Long Road.”
This Ronald wears batik, stands on a batik surf board and, unlike the other statues, his arms are wide open, as if trying to keep his balance.
Aside from his fast-food icons, Herry’s other creations can also be seen at the Police Academy in Semarang and at the air military school in Bandung. He also regularly participates in local exhibitions.
His other works include figure sculptures, usually in female form.
Although he was not born in Yogyakarta he said he considers it his hometown. “As an artist, I prefer living here. The environment is friendly, unlike Jakarta where everyone is in a rush,” he said.
CV. Prasasti Pulung Pratama
Jl. Parangtritis Km 10 Neco, Sabdodadi, Bantul,