with Ludwig Haas, Sculptor
to Artist by © Rocío Heredia
tell us something about yourself, where did you grow up, and what you
dreamed of becoming as a child?
I spent my youth in Feldbach, a small town in the southeast of Austria.
I was curious, dissatisfied and constantly in motion. In my dreams I was
someone special, a first rate sportsman for example who could successfully
escape from the bourgeois small town idyll.
Would you tell us when you discovered your talent and when did
you decide to become a full-time artist?
I had delved into art since my youth mainly focusing on graphic work and
painting. My parents pressured me into learning a bourgeois profession
before I dared to become an entrepreneur but in 1980 I became a full-time
artist. This marked a great change in my life.
How did you feel when you discovered that you had art talent beyond
others you knew? When did you decide to become a full time artist?
In the initial years of my artistic activity I always felt different,
set apart from the other painters and sculptors I was related to or friendly
with. It was only when I began to look at myself in more detail and at
my work that I was forced to admit the limitation of my power of expression
to myself and thus the proximity and similarity of this with what already
exists in art. This worried me enormously till the end of 1990, despite
individual creative attempts on my behalf, and made me search more and
more for a perfect form of expression beyond the limits which prevailed.
What was your first sculpture? I'm curious -- Do you have a picture
of that first work?
My first sculpture was a woman reposing who has grown into a stone. The
head is of polished bronze but what makes it special is the optically
hidden connection between the non-ferrous metal and the rock of my homeland.
How this connection is done remains a small secret. I will, however, be
happy to enclose a photo of the sculpture for you.
What is your formal training? How did you acquire your knowledge
and skills as a sculptor?
"Trying by doing on the job" Although I argue with contemporary art from
time to time (e.g. in magazines, exhibitions) at the same time I avoid
any close contact so that I am not subjected to any influences. I mainly
acquired my skills myself.
influences your art? Are you inspired by particular places or spaces?
"What appears to be a realistic illustration is an inconsiderate approximation."
In my work I concentrate increasingly on "making things visible" which
are invisible - things which are hard to recognize or to experience, without
destroying any illustration faithful to reality. First and foremost I
am interested in the depth, the background to human existence and how
we act whereby I do not give preference to or exclude any special places
Which present or past artists do you admire?
None. I do, however, appreciate it when something special is created.
Where do you get ideas?
Some years ago my ideas used to develop when I was under pressure and
when I was able to keep myself apart from everyday life, e.g. when running
in natural surroundings. Today I can do this directly when I am working.
How would you describe your sculpture?
Reduced but nevertheless expressive. They are the "initial works direct
steel sculpting", new in form and expression and completely unmistakable.
Please tell us about your sculpting technique.
My method of steel sculpting is a sort of "melting and removing process"
of the outer sphere metal from a raw steel block using what is known as
the "ARC-air" method.
This is known from the two-dimensional "cutting" of steel plates and sheets:
the surface of the material is fluidized at temperatures higher than 4000
degrees and the hot melt is blown away with pressurized air.
qualities determine your choice of materials for intermediate forms and
tools and the final result?
As a direct acting sculptor I need no intermediate forms and tools. The
final result depends only on my idea and to some extent on the condition
and hardness of the raw material.
What are your favorite materials?
What do you find to be most fascinating in working with stainless
The hardness and the resistance of this raw material, which was not accessible
to a broad application so far in the art world precisely because of these
very properties. And naturally the result of the direct sculpting treatment,
which makes fascinating surface effects possible and which emphasizes
the basic material in a special way following the appropriate cleaning.
How about fabrication? Do you execute the construction yourself?
How often? Why?
My steel and high-grade steel made sculptures were all made personally
without any exceptions - from the idea to the finished execution - by
me. That would not have been possible in any other way since up to now
nobody else practises the art of three-dimensional steel sculpturing.
Even my students, who are very enthusiastic, only familiarise themselves
with the first steps of this new form of sculpturing. A no-compromising
approach is necessary to do more.
I fear that there may be health risks related to your work --
how do you handle that?
With care and optimal working safety (particularly for the eyes), which
is comparable to what a steel digester in industry would do. That at the
same time makes my methodology difficult, because I don't see very much
when working and dimensionality can only be converted with the feeling
of my hands. A certain amount of risk remains of course, but I am very
aware of it.
challenges have you faced in your work?
The challenge of overcoming existing and personal restrictions with my
work and finding new forms of expression.
How do human beings impact your sculptures? I am intrigued by
the various ways you approach the human figure. Would you tell us more
about the creative process?
As I already mentioned with my work I try to look into the depth of the
human being, to express what the particular being doesn't want to notice
or cannot notice in this particular way. In a certain sense my sculptures
possess a generally accepted symbolism, which hurts, pleases or simply
only affects. Many of my works from earlier years are the result of my
Which is your favorite sculpture and why?
It is very difficult to answer the question. Perhaps it is the laborious
work process which produces a special connection to all my works. I love
these works and I live with them. Nothing is as hard as a separation.
From the point of view of time there are individual sculptures which represent
corner points of my work process. One of them is "Roots" which Barbara
Tampieri selected in her preview of my work as artist of the month.
What are the milestone events in your career that give you satisfaction
The first large documentation of my work, in May 2001, made me particularly
happy. The book published in this respect was sent to many internationally
important art galleries and is available at their museums.
What role does the public play in your creative endeavor? What
do you expect people can learn and feel when they see your artworks?
The public consists for me of exactly those humans to whom I dedicated
my work. They are objects I observe and they observe themselves to a certain
extent in my work.
I would like to encourage everyone to think about what they have deep
inside themselves when they observe them. The appearance is only one facet,
which can, in principle, be arranged independently of the material. Stainless
steel, which is difficult to access, is perhaps a special symbolism for
everything that is complex and not easily attainable in our lives. A deliberate
anti pole has been created to an all-pervasive superficiality - in life
and in art.
there ever been a time when you wanted to put your work as a sculptor
on hold, while you try another art technique?
What is your ultimate goal as a sculptor?
I would like to reach a broad public with my sculptures and to mediate
the art of reflection. The methodology of three-dimensional steel sculpturing
should receive the status it deserves in the history of art.
What aspiration as an artist is most important to you?
The best quality of work.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
Yes - I am working on a new project - but it is top secret!
I will give you only a few small details: It is about "people plants"-
a series of several sculptures which deviate slightly from human forms
which manipulate and change everything and every now and then also plant
Do you think the Internet has contributed to the promotion of
Yes, I think it's an important contribution to the international promotion
of my work.
the Internet have a positive or negative influence on Art?
An absolutely positive influence!
Over the net art information is spread very broadly and reaches almost
anyone who is interested in it. This could not be done to date using the
conventional forms of media.
What advice would you give to young artists?
I would advise them to work on their own identity and never deviate from
their way despite all the potential setbacks.
Finally, how do you feel you have been blessed personally as a
result of embracing the life of an Artist?
I would not only call it luck, because for me it is the only honest possibility
to communicate with the present, everything else is a game of roles.
I feel I am lucky when I think about the great support and understanding
of my family and of my friend Wolfram Kalt who have helped me on my difficult
Mr. Haas, our viewers, and I appreciate your time and responses
to my questions. Thank you.
Ludwig Haas,Sculptor :::
Interview © May 2003 Rocío Heredia.
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BTDesign Art Gallery.
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