A conversation with Sasha Bandi Robert
Sasha Bandi Robert is a hardcore punk and poet that uses various techniques of art to express his stream of consciousness and surrounding environment. There is something raw about the reality that he sings, paints, sculpts + cut and pastes about. His art finds its way into songs, but also on paper, wood and all the materials he gets close at hand. There are very deep feelings of social and human trauma in the works of this artist from Cluj, and every time I look at them they stick to my mind.
We had a very special online chat about dreams, death, isolation, music, tattoos, punk art, horror films, life in Cluj, friendship & collaboration and, last but not least, his exhibition at the Moebius Gallery that runs until December 7th.
| What does dreaming mean to you as an artist and a human being? I know you had an exhibition on this topic, NO LAW.
NO LAW was the title of an exhibition I did a very long time ago. I have no connection with the exhibition or the works of that time because I hate them now. It was also the theme that I chose to master, my dreams. For four semesters while studying, I chose to illustrate my dreams. Dreams yes, they are important to me, weel, mostly nightmares anyway, and when I manage to remember them, I put them in my works.
| Another exhibition you had was called SORE LOSER. Here, the main themes were death and birds. The fact that no one can escape death should make us more aware of our power of creation?
I have died many times. The best time was when I died in 2017, when I did the exhibition Sore Loser. I'm probably just a corpse now. I am as dead as Dead, the musician from Mayhem, who influenced me a lot in approaching issues such as death. As an artist I feel about death as if it were the absolute truth. ONLY DEATH IS REAL MAN!!!!!!!!
| SHIPWRECK OF OUR LAST HOPE, another expo, has again the theme of death, but also the theme of water, ocean and offshore isolation. I also feel a socio-political tendency in the poetry of your exhibitions. How do you juxtapose politics with art in your life, Sasha?
I would prefer as much as possible to avoid politics, because I hate it. Right or left, or their extremes, personally, I find all politics limiting mind and soul. Fuck politics, drink beer haha. But yes, I may sometimes get rid of it by doing some I Don’t Know, political work.
| Have you got a technique you prefer? Is it drawing, painting or sculpture? Is it something premeditated or does the technique come from your flow of inspiration?
It depends on how I feel or how bored I am with a particular technique. I always try to find new formulas for myself. At the moment I am very tired of what I do and have to look for other environments.
| A recurring theme in your work is marginalisation. There is also the term Outsider Art, in connection with the aesthetics of the ugly. But instead of theorising, I would like to ask you how you came to define your style?
I don't think I have a particular style, or I don't think I've reached a final formula yet. I get bored extremely fast. But to try to answer your question, I came to this form and moment with my work, after years and years of searching. I think my style will change forever, I cannot stay put, or try to define myself.
| Of your many exhibitions, do you some that come to your mind instantly, due to unusual circumstances? In fact, which ones have marked you the most?
Sore Loser, who was at Matca gallery in Cluj, comes to mind. It was an exhibition about breakups, about life without love, or about how life is when you lose a great love. I wanted to communicate with those people, those agonizing moments, and if anyone goes through or went through such moments, to just tell them, that in the end, it will be ok and that they are not alone. That's why I insisted on the opening on February 14th. Right there was my funeral too, you know?
| Can you tell us more about your exhibition at the Mobius Gallery? Here you are also dealing, amongst others, with a very sensitive topic in the Romanian society, religion.
The exhibition at Mobius is more about love, depression, loneliness, isolation, heavy mental issues, trauma, etc. There is a lot to talk about. Please go there if you have time and you will see all there is to see.
I also brought works from Cluj, from other exhibitions that have not been through Bucharest, at Mobius Gallery. But I also stayed a month in Bucharest, to do new works for this exhibition. I don't remember having art about religion. There is just an intervention on "The Last Supper", where I made IORGU THE AGGRESSOR (a fantastic Bucharest based wrestler) to urinate on Christ’s face and cut everyone’s head off.
| How important is friendship and collaboration between artists? I am referring here to the special relationship you have with Lea Rasovsky, who has written about your work in Scena9 and has a lot of praise for your art.
Friendship with like-minded artists and helping each other, being united, is very important. This is how incredible things can be done, friendships or exhibitions. I very much wish we could meet to laugh and drink and organize many group exhibitions together. Matca is a artist run space from Cluj and yes there I have presented alongside Lea Rasovsky, who is my twin soul. She is a true astral sheriff.
| Is music just like visual art, a form of creation?
I play in Wrong Turn, a hardcore punk/ Oi band that me and some of friends have founded in 2015. As influences we have Sheer Terror, 86 Mentality, Combat 84, maybe Darkthrone, early Agnostic Front, and so on. Or at least that's what I like to think.
In the band we have very different musical preferences, so we had to find a formula we all agree on. I wanted something old school, not to sound Romanian, something new for our country. I wanted it to be negative, totally non-political, just pure hatred on tape. This is why we called it 100% Negative Transylvanian Hardcore.
And, yes I make music, although I do not consider myself a musician or artist, it is a creative process for me, of course.
| What do you listen to as bands or solo artists?
My favorite music is Oi! music. Other eternal loves would be hardcore punk, black metal, post-punk, 77 punk, etc. a lot of these sounds. I like problematic, controversial music, sounds that are not exactly "safe", which are offensive, that's why I listen to R.A.C (Rock Against Communism), but the bands from that style who have more Oi! and punk in them or NSBM, haha.
I completely hate PC music. I'm not a fan of extremist ideologies, but music is music and if it sounds good, I listen to it. The list you mentioned is more of a list for the parties we have, because if I start playing the music I really love, I think people would either go home, or get bored.
I'll just mention one band that is probably among my favorites, The Smiths, for which I would take a bullet if I would have to.
When I find sounds that I think are wonderful, I insist on sharing them with the people around me. I just want to dance, laugh, drink, behave like a retard, I basically want to have fun.
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