Gryphons, unicorns, centaurs and chimeras have been part of human culture from prehistoric times and continue to fire our imagination today. The world of these wondrous mythical beings lies just beyond our own and the boundaries between the two are thin and unstable, as our folklore shows.
The world of myth and strange beings reveals a hidden aspect to our own consciousness, a realm where we sense the presence of a reality and a time beyond our everyday experience.

The sculptures of Haukur Hardarson seem to spring from these hidden corners and evoke another time and another stage of being. They show us the creatures of myth and shapes that echo long-gone civilisations, but even more importantly they attest to an obsession with craft and detail rarely met with in contemporary art. In fact, the viewer is initially transfixed by the evident care and work that has been expended on each piece, endless hours of patient toil where most artists of our day would have sought simpler and less arduous methods. Hardarson builds up his sculptures layer by layer using
liquid mortar that is literally painted on, mixed with different
colours so that the layering shows along the edges. The mortar is then patiently  sanded down again to reveal some of the colours beneath the surface, a process that mimics the gradual erosion of the ancient objects - the patina and colour depth of age - and gives the sculptures a timeless quality. At first sight they remind one of old metal but a closer inspection reveals even greater depth and a more complex structure, like metal, or stone or wood, or simply like nothing one has seen before.

Hardarson's method also allows him to achieve the subtle shapes and details that are so characteristic of his work so that his fantastic animals evoke the petrified remains of living beings and his urns and vessels echo those ancient times when even humble objects required the artisan's attention in every detail.
In fact, the work is so time-consuming that the artist can only
produce a handful of sculptures each year - a sharp contrast to the mass production that characterises our age, even in art.
Not only do the outside surfaces of Hardarson's sculpture show his patient application, their insides - their hidden parts - receive even more meticulous attention. Inside the urns are carefully sculpted faces and figures that are never seen by the audience, hardly even hinted at by the clean, simple forms of the outer surface. In some cases most of the work that has gone into the sculpture is hidden and will remain hidden whenever the work is exhibited. 

This almost obsessive concern with the inner layers and insides of his work is one of Hardarson's most striking characteristics.Why pay such detailed attention to what will never be seen, to what forms no part of the visible work of art? The viewer who can at least
sense an answer to that question will have understood Hardarson's mission as an artist. What goes into a work of art is as important as that which shows on its surface. In this, the work of art is like history or like our own consciousness: Forgotten eras and unconscious processes are no less important than well-documented histories and conscious thoughts.In this way Hardarson's approach to his craft reflects and underlines the striking themes of his sculptures, the mythological creatures and the ancient shapes of his vessels. The hidden is not shown but merely hinted at. It remains hidden but continues to influence our experience of the world and its objects. Our world is in fact an inexhaustible well of meaning, knowledge and understanding, and art must reflect that fact and be itself inexhaustible, always offering more than meets the eye.

Jón Proppé, art critic and curator.








Haukur Haršarsson