Claes Uvesten

Artist statement

Central to my work is humanity, and most notably, the human head, the center of thought, reason, and creativity. A complete understanding of the architecture of the mind remains elusive. Science has yet to fully explain consciousness, and it is from this point of departure that my glass work takes form. I use glass, as opposed to other materials, such as clay, because glass has a unique property which makes it conducive to my exploration of consciousness and the human psyche. This property is transparency. Transparency allows for levels of meaning to be conveyed beyond the surface, suggested by color and forms placed within form. Each head has its complexities, its unique moods that shift according to one’s perspective when viewing the figure, just as our own moods change depending on how we perceive other people in our lives. The transparency of the glass is uniquely able to convey both the internal and external aspect of each body. Glass sculptures (Arctic, Punk, I Turned Into Ice) at Reijmyre glasbruk

Technically my work is based on traditional sculpture techniques. Classical sculpture, with its formalist aesthetic values, is a major influence on my oeuvre. Working from a large clay mass, I shape the human head, a process that can take several weeks. Subsequently I place a sand, resin, and a catalyst mixture over the completed clay sculpture, which hardens resulting in a mould. Hot molten glass is poured into the mould in layers. Hastily colors and objects are placed into the various layers in order to convey diverse expressions. When I open the kiln, it is as though I am an archeologist. The mould has burnt away, leaving a residue of sand from which the unique glass sculpture is excavated.

The most challenging and exciting aspect of my role as an artist is the continued exploration and development of techniques that further my creative expression. Lately I have been experimenting with the inclusion of historic glass plate negatives within my glass figures. Suspended inside the head of a sculpture one can find images of people and places past. The viewer may choose to complete the narrative that is suggested by these images. It is this response, namely the narratives, thoughts, interactions, and even secrets evoked in the viewer, that comprise the complexities of human consciousness. Glass plate negative

More than any other material, glass is where transparency and light meet form. Light meeting form brings to mind the creation stories, in many cultures around the globe, including Norse mythology. Central to the Nordic creation myth is fire and ice. Working with glowing hot glass, and struggling to create an expression that is not only subjective but also universal, is the focus and drive behind my work. I link the material of glass to a larger narrative, and the exertion behind the act of creation, to my process of understanding the complexity of our being, our consciousness.

Photos taken by Stefan Johansson