Agung, what is home to you? How has your home impacted you in the way you see the world as an artist?
Home, artist’s character and personality, dialect, mindset, shape the artist mind and his work.
Since childhood I’ve lived in multi-cultural, congested cities; moving to a place that has a dominant ethnicity. Becoming a minority was a refreshing change. My background has made me see the world globally. The issue of majority or minority is just a matter of context.
Many artists that I’ve interviewed are or have been architect graduates. You were able to create your piece of work without the constraints of a company.
When did you know you have achieved that perfect art expression as an architect?
For me, it was the moment that I got recognized officially with an award.
What is the difference between the Discipline of Architecture and being an Artist with architectural influence?
Architectural images have always been traditionally considered as design images; pre-planned and technical, rarely art. However, these boundaries dissolved along with discourse of postmodernism and deconstruction. This dissolving turns architectural images, landscape, and compositions into visual art. Only a few of Indonesian artists apply language and the concept of architecture. I’ve found the Discipline of architecture makes artists work like architects. Design, observation, data collecting, concept, then execute.
You’ve mentioned that artists no longer need to use their hands to make their work; they need only to design it and find an artisan to conduct the process of creation. How do you consider them then?
Even today I still work by myself, especially on paintings. But for sculpture, art objects, and installations I need artisan to help me actualize the design. Maintaining this balance between artist and artisan is important.
For some people, going back to roots could take a pencil and a paper. How about you?
I see a return to roots more as a going back to the character and identity that forms your background. My background is to live in a congested city with my architectural education. That is my root.
Your choice of colors for most of your art pieces is limited. Why?
Cold colors, steel, iron, brick, wood, concrete, ground/soil. These are the structural elements that shape the city’s space. Walls, concrete, giant advertising structures block our gaze. These elements seize the view of the free horizon. That inspires my aesthetic.
What goes through your mind when you’re producing your work?
An architect’s workflow is still influenced by the creation, design and execution of the art. I used to create manually using sketchbooks, inks, and pencils, and now I use a computer. The design is not always similar to final work. It’s a very fluid process.
What knowledge would you like to share with the younger generations of artists out there? What is for you the meaning to be an artist today?
Nowadays artists shouldn’t stick to the knowledge of Fine Arts; another knowledge is needed. It could be architecture, design, photography, entertainment, interior design. It’s about combining what you know.
What’s next for Agung Tato Suryanto?
More exploration of knowledge! Right now it’s about technique and shape expressed through making artwork.