THE ALCHEMIST. Indonesian artist Bagus Pandega combines movement, sound and light along with an element of surprise in his one-of-a-kind installations
Being the only Indonesian artist featured in Art Basel Hong Kong’s “Discoveries” section this year, Bagus Pandega is definitely an emerging artist to watch. Just like an alchemist, he has mastered the art of assembling various, oftentimes unthinkable, objects to create complicated installations. Experimentation and the element of surprise are two elements that have consistently been present in his creative process, as the results always depart from his initial ideas.
You studied sculpting, but you have been creating installations. What caused the shift?
As a matter of fact, installation is another form of three-dimensional art and an extension of sculpting. I find totem-like items in sculpting unappealing, so I expand the dimension by adding movement, voice or light. By doing so, the variables are always changing, and the limitation in creating is practically absent.
Given its limitless nature, how do you experiment in your work?
The progress of my works is like stairs: I start with simple techniques and try to take higher steps in the next project. As of now, I have already collected a “bank of experiences” that allow me to decide on which techniques I want to use. I can easily combine, for instance, this kind of movement with that kind of sensor. Overall, the experiment process feels like playing with Lego blocks—I simply choose what I want to pair with each other.
What is the most challenging piece you’ve done so far?
The hardest project I’ve completed was my first artwork, “Singer: Magical Mystery Tour,” in which I combined a turntable with a Singer sewing machine—hence the name. Creating it was hard because I was this kind of artist who knows what he wants to create but doesn’t know how to do it. Moreover, in installation art, most of the pieces are mechanical and electrical. I didn’t learn such mechanisms in sculpture making, so I have to learn those techniques on my own. Another piece that is quite challenging is “Rotation inside the Valley” due to its huge size and many components.
Clandestine Transgression the Melody
Have you ever encountered a moment that surprised you while putting together the pieces?
Always! I have never entirely followed my initial idea, because I need an element of surprise in my creative process. For example, in “The Anthology Pt. I” I used a lot of lights and mechanical movements that I didn’t expect beforehand. After it was done, I just sat down, watched it move, laughed by myself, turned it off, and went home. I was satisfied with the result.
Lastly, what’s your plan for the foreseeable future?
In September, I will have a solo exhibition in Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta. I also plan to apply for an artist residential program to refresh my ideas in a different place and culture.