About The Work

Hugo Powell in his studioI think it is a mistake for a sculptor to say much in explanation of his work, since one of the most vital functions of art is to provide fuel for thought and feelings about matters for which rational exposition is inadequate. To appreciate any work of art, the really important thing is to try to experience it directly. Nonetheless, some brief indication of an artist’s general ideas and intentions can be illuminating, particularly today when so many differing attitudes and opinions are current.

This much being understood, I would summarize my personal approach as follows: the idea of sculpture as a primary art form is the the foundation of my working practice. Specifically, sculpture is the art of three dimensional shape. That is to say, it is about mass and void and an expressive physical displacement in space. It is about structure, whether explicit or covert, and about size, scale and proportion. It is about holes as much as extrusions, and it is also about texture and the sense of touch. A sculpture speaks to us by means of an interplay of convex, concave and flat surfaces observed in sequence as we move around it. And although we experience and enjoy it visually in this way, its distinctive aesthetic pleasure, like that derived from architecture and faceted gems, is as much conceptual as visual.There is a unique satisfaction when the entirety of a work, though never simultaneously open to scrutiny, can be pondered and weighed in the mind. Sculpture is also concerned with a huge range of materials and techniques. I see this choice of options, not just as a matter of personal taste, but in terms of different potentials for shape-making, since each material makes its own unique contribution to the rich variety of the sculptor’s language.

But language inevitably implies content: something said in a particular mood, in a particular tone of voice, in a particular style. And for the artist that “something” is not merely a bare logical proposition but a fully rounded idea that has its own emotional and associative atmosphere; in fact, an idea to be experienced by the whole personality, not just the intellect.This kind of content i would define as my theme.

All my work, then, be it lyrical or speculative, a celebration or a lament, an ironical aside or a vigorous affirmation, is the result of an intuitive dialogue: a sort of give-and-take between shapes and meanings. My aim is to bring my theme into a dynamic relationship with the form that embodies it. When all goes well, modifications and clarifications between both the formal and thematic aspects of the work take place, and eventually it is though they become welded together to form an intrinsic unity.

But, in the end, a sculpture is really only complete when I sense that it has undergone a sort of spontaneous metamorphosis. This change transforms it into an entity which, in spite of still being linked to the original forces that engendered it, has acquired an unforeseen independence. Suddenly it seems to have a life of its own which no longer needs my controlling hand.This is the time when I am at last able to set it aside,and am free to start thinking about something new.

Hugo Powell, “Shapes and Meanings”