Agugn Prabowo: Printing Life in the Cosmos Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, Manila Text by Roy Voragen
Visual artist Agung Prabowo (Bandung, Indonesia, 1985) graduated in 2010 from the Institute of Technology Bandung’s art school, where he studied in the printmaking studio. He’s better known by the moniker Agugn, which is more of a graphic gesture. To conclude his BFA, he used the woodcut technique to create his final work. Today, this prolific visual artist is well known for his mastery of the printmaking technique linocut.
In 2012, he was announced first winner by the jury of the Indonesian Printmaking Triennale, which resulted in the touring solo exhibition Natural Mystic in 2013 (Bentara Budaya, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bali and Solo). In 2014, he was one of three awardees at the Jogja Mini Print Biennale and he received the Young Artist Award at ArtJog, a boutique art fair in Yogyakarta. At the 2015 edition of ArtJog, he showed We Are All Made of Stars; symbolizing
techniques: carborondum, woodcut, photolithography, linocut, and fingerprints by members of the audience, and all five on handmade paper. In 2015, the prolific artist did two solo exhibitions in Yogyakarta at the very same time: Unguarded Guards at Jogja Contemporary and We Went Wild at Krack Studio. And now he is showing for the very first time in Manila at Vinyl on Vinyl.
THE PROCESS Good linocut plates are difficult to come by in Indonesia. After ample research, Agugn decided on an alternative: he started using a material used to make soles for shoes. He draws directly on these plates, and, subsequently, he cuts into the plates. He doesn’t use different plates to print different colors, he carves again on the same plate to print different colors.
The artist prints the plates using reduction techniques with L-shaped registration. He has two presses in his home studio: a small, vertical press for maximum 40×40 cm and a bigger, flatbed press for maximum 45×65 cm. Agugn built both these presses. The two custom-tailored presses have due to
their limited size an impact on what he can achieve in terms of dimensions, therefore, if he decides that an artwork requires a larger size he has to work modular and either show more sheets of paper within one frame or show the work in a grid with each print separately framed. This results in a mosaic, which has the benefit that different sheets can be treated with different colors and also can be given different images. He also makes this technical limitation work for him conceptually. The modular approach shows how we stand amidst our life-worlds: we continuously move in-and-out different contexts – or grids, as the artists puts it – together yet separate, nearby yet far…
The artist uses for his prints paper that is hand-made, one of the ingredients is recycled paper from newspapers as well as from test prints. The paper is textured and thick yet porous. And he uses ink usually used for offset printing. The hand-made paper has the ability to absorb the oil-based ink, which makes the colors look vivid and vibrant. The paper isn’t just hand-made, the artist also, through thorough research, designed its formula to make it perfect for his printmaking art.
There is a DIY-quality to Agugn’s artistic practice: handmade paper, custommade presses, and plates and ink sourced from unlikely places. Furthermore, the linocut technique was self-taught.
To understand the world Agugn has created thus far, one for sure has to look at
also Abducted by Himself, exhibited at Selasar Sunaryo Art Space’s fourth installment of Bandung New Emergence in 2012, for which he created an artist book and a large collection of small, framed works. The latter deals with his stint at the printing company and how he felt trapped in his body working there – alienated from his dreams.
In his solo exhibition Unguarded Guards at Jogja Contemporary, he showed a new body of work using linocut, photolithography and a combination of the two
techniques, all printed on hand-made paper. This new body of work expanded on the concept of fear and centered on the idea of how paradoxical protection actually is.
For the solo show We Went Wild at Krack Studio in Yogyakarta he collaborated with his child – a collaboration between artist and his protégée, between master-printer and his apprentice – and they created a wonderful limited edition artist book with linocut and letterpress prints.
Unguarded Guards included the series Chill #1-3, which was printed using the technique photolithography. This technique can show a brushstroke so it can capture the artist’s hand while still retaining the sense of repetition. However, after the show was over, he realized something was missing and he decided to rework this series into Chillax #1-3, which is now for the very first time on view at Vinyl on Vinyl. Each work in this series still shows a lone male figure, but Agugn added more layers of linocut prints. The story behind this new series, to quote his wife, is “to relax and get your chi back.” As the process of making this series shows, this isn’t easy but it feels fabulous if it is accomplished.
Because the artist doesn’t have a big press, he printed Kundika #2 manually using a spoon and his hand. Both the process as well as the result is aesthetically meditative – the former for the artist and the latter for both the artist and his audience.
The series Surface #1-20 is printed using a combination of photolithography and linocut. The 20 works show a more abstract side of Agugn and function as a balance to his more expressive works.
Endless Scrolling #1-6 is a series of photolithography prints on handmade paper, which was first shown at 33 prints, a group show of three artists of the
first Jogja Miniprint Biennale winners, Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, 2015.
Holyday #1-22 is a series of photolithography prints on handmade paper first shown at Dia.Lo.Gue Art Space for the group exhibition Lipat Ganda, which was curated by Chabib Duta Hardono, in Jakarta, 2015. This series of 21×29 cm prints offers an intimate encounter with Agugn’s work due to the relatively small size of the works.
He is also showing works at Vinyl on Vinyl previously shown at Universal Influence, ArtJog9, Jogja National Museum, which was curated by Bambang Toko, Yogyakarta, 2016. From this exhibition, the series Measurement #1-17 is now part of Agugn’s solo show.
Roy voragen is a Bandung-based curator and poet (issuu.com/royvoragen)
my essay for Agugn's solo exhibition at Vinyl on Vinyl, Manila