Leeds College of Art is currently hosting an exhibition from PAN, the Berlin based record label who have become critically acclaimed as a platform for experimental sound and art. With the exhibition showcasing a range of artwork produced by the labels musicians and artists, and the way PAN ‘s aesthetic compilation of music and art delicately incorporates visual stimuli into the core of the electronic sound industry.
Founded in Berlin in 2008 by sound artist Bill Kouligas, PAN represents a community of artists united by their singular contributions to the electronic vanguard. PAN has released records by some of the world’s most acclaimed electronic and experimental artists over its five year lifespan. Their beautiful artwork is a critical part of their success, and for Bill the visual element is as much a crucial part of the business as the musical one.
The PAN label boss Bill Kouligas says, “The design of the label has a cohesive aesthetic that the musicians/artists we work with are aware of. There is no fixed process in regards to working with them on the artwork, PAN strive to make something within the concept of their album as far as possible, and we both approve the final artwork. The label was conceived initially as a platform for our artwork and interests. We are trying to not limit ourselves to being a record label in the traditional sense; there have been numerous shows, events, showcases and festivals etc. to date as part of the label … some non-music related projects in the works.”
With 10 different pieces on show, each serving as artwork for different musicians’ releases, the exhibition demonstrated a diverse accumulation of different artists’ works and influences. Whilst some of the artwork contained clear allusions to traditional abstract forms and illustrations, the general harmony of the collection derived from its unanimous individuality, as each piece complimented the next whilst remaining a free standing work of art.
A recurring interest in nearly all of the pieces was the use of different layers to build substance, as an array of different styles, lines and waves were incorporated to visual effect. This fusion of striking backdrop images with contorted shapes and figures in the foreground further demonstrated the experimental style which PAN prides itself on. Just as musicians integrate different layers of sounds into their music production, the layers of artistic balance found in these pieces provide a fitting counterpart to the musical features of PAN records.