Artist in the Spotlight: Stefan Begej
By now, if you've visited the Lakewood Arts Council Gallery and viewed the Ken Caryl Art Guild exhibit upstairs in the loft gallery, you've probably wondered, Who is this Stefan Begej? and What's with his installation of musical instruments blown to bits? There's even Buzz Lightyear who definitely hit infinity and beyond.
Well, Stefan Begej is one of the newer members of the Ken Caryl Art Guild, and he has suddenly exploded onto the art scene with a series of artworks he call his “Fragmentation Series”.
His artwork involves mixed-media sculpture in which found objects are modified to achieve a desired purpose and visual effect. For example, he says, “a musical instrument or baseball bat might be fragmented to portray the effect of excessive exuberance, or a clock crushed to portray emotions of anger or exasperation.”
When first viewed, a reaction to an “exploded” musical instrument might be one of shock. But gleaning insight from the title leads to an understanding that the instruments are actually portrayed in “moments of extreme musicality and were simply unable to withstand such exuberance.”
This unique idea got its start in a class he taught for home-schooled kids called “Mechanism Workshop” where mechanical devices were disassembled and studied. Stefan’s background is in engineering, computer science and robotics, but this hands-on work, more practical and functional than purely artistic, turned, two years ago, to a “desire to make things meant to evoke feeling and emotions rather than satisfy a utilitarian end,” he says. After exploring photography, painting and quilting (his mother was a seamstress and insisted he learn how to sew), he settled on his current interest. His future plans are to create pieces with specific venues in mind – fragmented musical instruments associated with jazz clubs, hard rock events or classical music concerts, or, as he says, “any other absurdities that might pop involuntarily to mind.”
In creating these quite large sculptures, Stefan first unscrews or pries open his preferred object, then begins to employ other tools such as a hammer, jeweler’s saw, knife, chisels and even an axe, which he confesses is not the most pleasant process to watch or perform! He then organizes, photographs and studies the arrangement of the pieces to create the most visually arresting composition. Pieces are arranged on a black canvas covered panel and mounted with screws or silicone adhesive.