Tipping the scales at 450 pounds, "Harlequin" by Christian Vagn Hansen is the heaviest piece on the 2016-17 Clayton Sculpture Trail. You'll find it on the west side of The Clayton Center facing Fayetteville Street.
This hefty hunk of art is primarily a work of ferrocement, which involves shaping concrete over an underlying metal skeleton. The large gray bulb of concrete is contrasted by the bright red, stainless steel table it sits on.
The work's most popular feature, however, is certain to be the large circular mirror located in the center. We'll be looking for lots of selfies and hair-do checkups to take place on Fayetteville Street thanks to Harlequin.
Christian Vagn Hansen is featured for the first time on this year's Clayton Sculpture Trail, and the Public Art Advisory Board decided to showcase two very distinctive pieces of his work. To get an idea of Vagn Hansen's range, take a walk over to Horne Square and check out "Bare Bones" – a delicate tripartite spire crafted from reclaimed steel pipes.
A resident of Cary, Vagn Hansen sculpts in a variety of metals to create large outdoor sculptures and smaller statement pieces for the home or public spaces. He is often drawn to the interesting shapes and patterns found in nature and incorporates them into his work using an abstract, minimalist aesthetic.
Another major influence on Vagn Hansen's style is his exceptional upbringing. He was born in Lima, Peru to Danish parents, and growing up in a Danish home cultivated Vagn Hansen's appreciation for Scandinavian style, favoring clean lines and modern simplicity.
Vagn Hansen uses a variety of techniques to create his pieces, including casting, welding, and plasma cutting.
Vagn Hansen has traveled extensively and has called many places home – with North Carolina being just the latest locale on a long list. Vagn Hansen lives here with his wife and children and is part of the Liberty Arts Studio and Foundry in Durham.
Here's how Vagn Hansen describes his work in his own words:
"I make art because I think it is a language that is suppressed in our modern world. As a society we seem to create things that are very well defined, precise, practical and functional. In that I think something gets lost, I feel that sculpture can communicate in this missing language and make the viewer think a bit differently, even if just for a short time.
"I endeavor to create art that is as simple as possible while still conveying the essence of the inspiration. The inspiration for my work comes from many sources, however I am drawn to compelling shapes or groupings of shapes, which tend to originate from designs found in the natural world. Additionally the materials I work with have a big influence on the idea, many times the material seems to me to be destined for a certain design.
"Currently I am working mostly in metal and am looking execute some larger scale abstract designs I have created both through casting in bronze and sheet metal construction. I want to create pieces that can be displayed in sculpture gardens. I love nature and being able to display and enjoy art outdoors I think is fantastic. The permanency of metal makes it well suited for outdoor display and I feel it really adds to the impact of the sculpture."