In Thai, the name “Banjerd” means creativity, and “Lekkong” means durable metal. “I believe I was born to be an artist who creates “Lekkong” art,” says sculptor Banjerd Lekkong. He was born in the Phimai district, Nakhon Ratchasima, which is where the Ramayana sculpture is located, chosen by UNESCO as an archaeological world heritage site. These sculptures, the rocks of Phimai historical park, Thai architecture, Thai art and so on have all influenced the artist since he was young. His first artisan teacher was his father, who taught Lekkong, since he was eight years old, about steel and the different methods in steel-making, such as steel-turning and metal welding. When Lekkong grew up, he used this knowledge and his creative abilities as an inspiration for his creations.
“I would like to create artwork that extends beyond the imagination, and also reflects unexpected inverse feelings,” he says. “I aim to transform this solid material into something lively and emotional with wavering proportion and posture.” All of Lekkong’s ideas are new but based on Asian tradition and culture. His artworks reflect his identity. Using whatever materials he has available, his sculptures are meant to present his ideas in ways that are unexpected and imaginative; each sculpture is one of a kind.
Each work shows emotion and feeling through posture and expression of the eyes. Using solid metal to make something beautiful soft, and tender, Lekkong creates many things: an exclusive piece of art, a unique creation, and a piece of sensation. We went to the depths of the artist’s mind to learn more about these masterpieces eternal from the hands Banjerd Lekkong.
What do your sculptures represent?
My sculptures represent my culture, literature, and stories, and they are expressions of liveliness and movement.
Why did you decide to portray these particular figures?
My artwork is created from my imagination and my spirit. I believe that each piece is special because nobody can copy it. I found my unique identity, so I am confident that my works are entirely different from others. That is certainly my intention, which is why I decided to make these particular works.
A majority of your works are made from iron. Why did you choose this material to work with?
I used iron because I have been familiar with the materials and tools since I was young. When I grew up, I used this knowledge and my creative abilities as an inspiration for my creations. I enjoy creating beauty from hidden materials, things that people don’t normally pay attention to.
How did you learn to weld? Where do you get your materials?
I learned to weld from my father, my first artisan teacher, who owned a car garage business. From the age of eight, he taught me about steel and the different methods in steel-making, such as steel turning and metal welding. Growing up, I decided to study architecture; however, I still created steel art works. I bought all of my materials from steel scraps factories.
Do you have any personal artistic inspirations?
You may not believe it, but I do not have an artistic inspiration. All of my works are created from my empty thoughts. I started to imagine them myself and using my blacksmith knowledge and skills combined with a knowledge of architecture, I learned to create the final product.
From idea to final product, could you describe your artistic process?
First, I select the appropriate steel to create each part. I can modify each part differently although it is the same material. Then, I create facial expressions and eyes to convey the final expression.
What types of tools do you use to create your sculptures?
I use electronic welding machines that can be used to weld different materials, as well as a plasma cutter, grinder cutter, and a welding gas dryer for bending the metal shapes.
How does your educational background in architecture affect or influence your sculptures?
Knowledge of architecture has greatly influenced my works. I can create anything that I can imagine, so I can see the dimensions of a work before I start to build it.
What obstacles have you encountered in your artistic career?
I created everything by myself. They are all original and not based on anything else. It is a unique type of work. Therefore, old generation artists or people who buy art in Thailand did not pay attention my works. According to them, I did not focus on artwork, and they only cared about famous artists. I’ve gotten to where I am because I believed in myself and my work as a piece of universal art. I was confident in my unique creations and myself as an artist.
What do you hope viewers will take away from your pieces?
I hope my artworks will catch people’s eyes and amaze them. Everyone who sees my works can feel and touch the hidden beauty in the hardness of steel. I believe that I can make a strong impression on my viewers.
Are you working on anything new right now or have any plans to begin something soon?
Every one or two years, I would like to exhibit my works in America, England, France, Germany, and Italy. I was contacted by many places from museums and galleries, and I hope to create artwork that will become part of art history in the future.
Collecting art is a highly involving and emotional experience. The artist’s process and intention are some of the factors that make one fall in love with his or her piece. Learn more about our artists’ creative methods and fascinating techniques in the Center Stage and Artist Techniques categories.
View more of Banjerd Lekkong’s work on his ARTmine page.
For something extra, check out this video interview with the artist, Banjerd Lekkong!