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.
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.
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
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.
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.