Interview with: Benjamin Uggla
Benjamin Uggla is an artist living in Stockholm with the roots outside Gothenburg in Sweden. In his art he primarily works with sculpture. He has received his education at Konstfack, University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. During the last years he has worked with a variety of materials and exhibited his sculptures both nationally and internationally. In the recent years he has focused on ceramics and is planning to continue in that direction.
Welcome Benjamin, I would like to start this interview from the beginning, do you remember which artist or which artwork moved something inside you when you were a child?
Thank you. It’s hard to know where to start. But when I was a child I didn’t really have a favourite artist or artwork. My mother painted abstract spiritual artworks and encouraged us kids to draw. So I was more into the practical part and drew a lot without specific role models. I remember the first years in school I liked to draw different kinds of figures but also letters, probably inspired by the graffiti scene.
And then? how have your approach and references changed growing up?
I have always loved to create and learn new things since I took my first steps. My dad was a mechanical engineer, that may have inspired me to go into technological things like building computers and cooling systems for them, programming websites and apps, fixing car and motorcycle engines and paint jobs for vehicle bodies and so on. The visual aspect was important to me, it needed to result in beauty or perfection in some way.
In the creative atmosphere I loved listening to and creating music. It took my main focus for many years until an accident broke that path. I injured my hearing, and the related problems started to get worse in my teens. That made me look for other ways to express my creativity. I found that art would be the way to go and since then my main focus has been visual arts.
The first artists or artworks I admired were mostly local ones in Sweden. For a long time drawing in different forms had my attention, along with acrylic and watercolour painting.
I started art school in my mid 20’s and I came in contact with clay and sculpture for the first time. I fell in love instantly and since then I have worked with sculpture as my main focus. But I have continued to work figuratively just like I did as a kid, and I always try to challenge myself to find ways to express new forms. Today some of my favourite sculptors are Ken Price and Tony Cragg.
How would you describe your practice to someone who doesn't know you? what are the recurring elements, themes, concepts you refer to?
In my art I work with figurative and abstract sculptures, mostly in ceramics. I like to explore new areas, try out new things and to be inspired by my own process. The figurative sculptures were initially a bush in a sketchbook that got eyes, arms and legs. I think I wanted to give life to that bush, and then the character was made.
Usually each artist has a different modus operandi, what is yours? how did your projects start and how do they develop?
I often start out with a feeling or an idea before beginning with a new work. Sometimes the feeling can be hard to describe and not turn out how I wanted, but still be interesting. Then it’s just to try again, see if you can find it next time. So I would say iterating is important to me, to try new ways to implement the idea over and over again. The form is one important part along with the texture of the body. A form tells a story and the texture can boost it depending on the context. They both have an important collaboration that will end up as a definitive and final feeling.
What function do you attribute to your works and why?
Often I look for a feeling to express, and sometimes also more philosophical views of a subject. I see my art as something that can help us to remember who we are, what we do, or a reminder of something that is important to us.
We are at the end of this short interview, would you like to add something about your research and your art that has not emerged previously?
I will put more effort on research this year and hopefully find new concepts and ideas to explore. The more abstract part of my work did not get so much attention from me in the last year, so I may give it more in 2021