Ruben Pang, con­tem­po­rary artist

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

Ruben Pang was in­tro­duced to the fine arts from a young age. He de­voured his fa­ther’s col­lec­tion of mag­a­zines on old masters, in­clud­ing Rem­brandt and Car­avag­gio, as ref­er­ence for his paint­ings, but it wasn’t till the age of 16 did he con­sider the life of an artist. The first­born in a Chi­nese fam­ily, Pang felt the pres­sure to per­form aca­dem­i­cally. His then prin­ci­pal of Catholic Ju­nior Col­lege, how­ever, sim­ply told him to study the fine arts af­ter see­ing his se­ries of Alexan­der Mc­queen-in­spired fash­ion plates. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a Diploma in Fine Art from Lasalle Col­lege of the Arts in 2010, he was se­lected for the START In­ter­na­tional Artist Res­i­dency Pro­gram, where he spent months in Tel-aviv-yafo (Is­rael) sur­rounded by fel­low pas­sion­ate artists.

Pang’s works, of which he de­scribes as “vis­ual syn­co­pa­tions of his dreams”, have won him mul­ti­ple awards – Sov­er­eign Asia Art Prize Fi­nal­ist in 2010 and 2012, and the Win­ston Oh Travelogue award, to name a few. He re­cently de­buted of Halo­gen Lung, an idio­syn­cratic vi­su­al­i­sa­tion of inan­i­mate ob­jects at Pri­mae Noc­tis, Lugano (Switzer­land), as well as his sig­na­ture trip­tych, La Mec­ca­nica delle Mer­av­iglie, at MO.CA Cen­tro per le nuove cul­ture in Bres­cia (Italy).

You’ve men­tioned that you draw in­spi­ra­tions from your dreams. How have you trans­lated your vi­sion into re­al­ity?

com­bined with opaque streaks can cre­ate a seem­ingly end­less va­ri­ety of light. It could be any­thing; pris­matic, laser, flu­o­res­cence or light re­flected off smoke and veg­e­ta­tion.

What is most im­por­tant for you as an artist?

It is for­get­ting what I’ve done. This is so I can re­visit my works, be it mid-way or af­ter, so I can see them with a new per­spec­tive. If you re­mem­ber your work too well, all you’ll see are mis­takes. But I do keep in mind of my mile­stones, such as my trip­ty­chs, which were based on how em­pow­ered and chal­lenged I felt while cre­at­ing them.

Of the many places you’ve trav­elled to, which left an im­pres­sion on you?

Italy holds a lot of sig­nif­i­cance for me. When I was 18, us­ing what lit­tle Ital­ian I learned, I sent an email to one of my he­roes, Ni­cola Samori. Sur­pris­ingly, the Ital­ian artist, known for his dark, Baroque-in­spired oil paint­ings, replied and in­vited me to check out his ex­hi­bi­tion at Bologna. It was held within Villa delle Rose, a for­mer sum­mer res­i­dence dat­ing to the 18th cen­tury and as a hos­pi­tal dur­ing WWII. Of course, I flew over in a heart­beat. I still re­mem­ber mus­ing over the old masters at the var­i­ous ex­hi­bi­tions in Bologna with him. We main­tained our friend­ship. Just last year I headed back to Italy, specif­i­cally Forli, where he was born.

Even dur­ing my res­i­dency in Lugano (Switzer­land), I would find my way back to Italy. My host would take me to Lake Garda in the north (less than 200km from the Swiss bor­der). It is the largest lake in Italy and boasts a mes­meris­ing sight; crys­tal blue wa­ters, glaciers and gor­geous shore­lines di­vid­ing Verona, Trentino and Bres­cia. The lake just has this amaz­ing heal­ing en­ergy.

It lays next to Bres­cia, a city in north­ern Ital­ian re­gion of Lom­bardy, is an­other favourite. It is a stun­ning city with over 3,000 years of his­tory, in­clud­ing the UNESCO World Her­itage Site and for­mer monastery, San Sal­va­tore-santa Gi­u­lia dat­ing to 753 A.D. The city is also one that was plagued with wars. It was taken from the Byzan­tines by the Lom­bards, then Charle­mange, which made it the cap­i­tal of the Holy Ro­man Em­pire, and, more re­cently, in World War II. You get to see a city that has been through so much de­struc­tion yet healed and re­tained its beauty ev­ery sin­gle time through its mon­u­ments and peo­ple. What was a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that im­pressed you?

I’m more of a prosci­utto crudo sand­wich and an es­presso kind of guy; go­ing to a restau­rant as a des­ti­na­tion isn’t my fo­cus. How­ever, Ris­torante Lido 84 broke my streak. Over­look­ing Lake Garda, it’s this in­ti­mate, ca­sual space awash in Mediter­ranean blues and yel­lows and sur­rounded by cam­phor and olive trees. Chef Ric­cardo Ca­manini does an amaz­ing job, cre­at­ing inim­itable plates from re­gional pro­duce. Bagòss cheese (Lom­bardy) is used for the tortellini and raw moun­tain milk for their Flor di latte ice cream.

It’s hard to con­tain it into an el­e­va­tor pitch but there are two parts in the sim­plest sense.First, the sub­ject mat­ter. There is a uni­ver­sal­ity to dreams. Events or sym­bols that oc­cur in a dream are not tied to where the per­son is from or what gen­der and race they are. Some­one in France could be dream­ing about free-fall­ing off a cliff or be­ing ex­posed, just as some­one in Hong Kong would – with­out cul­tural in­flu­ence. And they are of­ten por­trayed in medi­ums of lights and sounds, de­spite not hav­ing the pho­ton par­ti­cles and air re­spec­tively for them to re­al­is­ti­cally man­i­fest.Se­condly, I’d trans­late th­ese en­er­gies onto the can­vas, vis­cer­ally. For ev­ery paint­ing, a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity is present. The light and sound I ex­pe­ri­enced are vi­su­alised onto wood pan­els or, par­tic­u­larly, alu­minium com­pos­ite pan­els. The lat­ter car­ries a metal­lic sheen to al­low me to cre­ate depth. Thin lay­ers of paint to al­low the un­der­ly­ing metal­lic sheen to shine through, which when

Ris­torante Lido 84 Lake Garda

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