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Interview with up-and-coming Artist Arfan Dharmawan

Arfan Dharmawan better known as Panck is one of the up-and-coming artists in Surabaya’s independent art scene. He is a truly versatile artist that has been creating analog and digital artworks for private and commercial spaces since 2017. His works are based on pop art approaches, although the images he uses are often dark and metaphorical. Over the years he gained recognition in the local scene and some dedicated fans. Now he is venturing into a new space of NFTs with hopes of bringing his art to everyone.

Your style is definitely unique it is a mixture of nostalgia, pop culture, and even though mostly portrays dark themes you find joy in it. Can you tell us how you developed your style?

As an architecture student, I never have a fixed image of what architecture is, or what it should be. For me, it’s always about delivering an experience that contains a message into a new and different form, that means to be interpreted or enjoyed, or both. During my study, I always held some unpopular opinions or didn’t follow the conventional approach in my designs. Usually, my approach is semiotic, it’s about how anything can be delivered poetically, including architecture or any other art form. I faced a lot of rejection, criticism, and pushback against my ideas during my studies. That’s why I decided to go into unconventional and try multi-discipline form when delivering my ideas. My form is heavily inspired by the products of pop culture I used to enjoy as a teen, music, movies, graphic novels, and other art forms. Until now I am still experimenting with how I produce my art by using a different form, different techniques changing my approach or point of view.

In the local scene, you are known as Panck. What is the story behind it?

It’s a moniker that I use to try to escape any form of discipline field, it should be experimental, the only matters is the message itself. It’s easier for me to deliver a message when using my alter ego. Panck is a nickname given to me by my close friends, it sounds fun and satire in some way. I loved how it sounds and the energy of the word. The “CK” at the end of the name, sounds angry and rebellious, so I chose to stick with it.

You decide to venture into the space of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). Why is that?

I believe every human has freedom of speech, including expressing their way in any form. Where I come from Indonesia, expressing some ideas that are controversial is taboo to do, especially when it disturbs the power or the comfort. Culture itself reshapes into more cubicle and boxy forms, it is becoming more uniform and much harder even for artists to escape its grasp. I to send a message in a form of art that people can enjoy timelessly and touch my generation and someday maybe will change the culture. I believe it’s possible, it’s all about spreading and resonating the messages, with NFT I hope any art form, any expression, can resonate with people, can be enjoyed together, and is free for interpretation by the artist, by the owner, and anyone else.

Your first NTF collection is called Para-Noir. What can we expect to see in it?

Para-Noir is a digital imagination. It portrays the unique feelings of humans throughout their dark times. It reflects also some happiness in every portrait I create. It’s like we’ll never know happiness when we have never visited sorrow. Happiness is a very surprising emotion. It can be a simple moment. Sometimes it’s not about what it is, but it is a compilation of where, when, and how we interpreted those things with our unconscious mind and our imagination. Through this series of 7 artworks, I try to bring the audience to revisit their own tough times that have come to pass, so we can enjoy the present moment more meaningfully.

The first piece of the series is titled “It’s Raining Outside”. Can you tell us more about this artwork?

“It’s raining outside” will be the first work that introduces this image series. It portrays life between sadness and happiness in a melancholic way. Rain is a natural event that is universal to everyone, but its interpretation is always subjective at the moment, it’s a disaster, also a blessing, it’s sad and relieving at the same time. It should be a perfect opening for what will be coming next in this series. 

This piece will be sold on the OpenSea platform in an open bid action. Do you have any expectations?

It excites me because I’ve prepared a lot for this series and it will be my first digital auction. I can’t wait how my work will be a token of messages for the current generation. The idea of this art that later will not be owned by me anymore, and the idea of “It’s Raining Outside” will still spread by itself is giving me chills. In my experience, people who love my art, are the ones that connect deeply with my message. They see it, they feel it, they recognize the words that for them have always been unspoken. I don’t have any expectations and cannot predict how the auction will go. This is all very new to me. I just hope that the person who will end up owning “It’s Raining Outside” will keep spreading it and the joyful message of the idea it represents.

You can check out Panck’s first NFT on OpenSea platform. If you are interested in bidding the action starts on the 3rd of January at 8 pm (GMT+7).