We are thrilled to be featuring Juan Diego Thielen sculptor, artist and object maker in our series of POA. He creates beautiful metal sculptures with his hands, inspired by time as a continuous present; a single timeline, infinite and without beginning.
Earlier this month we visited his studio, just in time to see all the works about to be shipped to different exhibitions around the world. He spoke to us about the exploration of the beauty of functional objects and the importance of tradition and work created without ownership and ego. By blending the work of Juan Diego, we hope we can remind each other of the importance in reconnecting with ourselves through our way of understanding time, space and matter. "Each sculpture is born from a question that, when posed in space, finds its own shape.
Juan, why have you chosen sculpture as a form of expression ?
I have always felt a harmony with the ability to create with my own hands. As I was learning about techniques and materials, I discovered the infinity of creative resources that sculpture allows. The physical relationship with these materials during the creative process lets me express intimate and complex themes in a very natural way. It is my way of feeling calm, it helps me understand where I am standing and who I am, channel and communicate.
How would you describe your work and why?
I really would not know very well how to pigeonhole my work in a single word, I try to read more than one in it and I feel identified with many aesthetic trends.
However, the protagonists of my pieces are the materials. I am fascinated by the idea of being able to transmit through their aspects and qualities, to understand how they react and communicate with each other. I present them in ways that can give the viewer clues about what I want to communicate and I try to make the materials deliver the message.
What are the tools you're using when working?
Although I often use objects that I turn into my own tools, I also work with machines, with a rather complicated structure. I'm quite obsessed with tools and objects. The ones that I make myself or produce have of course added value to my personal affection. But the one I'm using every day is for sure the radial machine. You could almost say that the metal cutting machine is like my third hand.
With what element of nature do you feel most connected?
I feel very connected to the sea. Since my childhood I spent a lot of time by the sea. I think this is something that inspires me a lot in my work. However the mountains inspire me a lot but the sea and the magnitude of water the most. The idea of an unknown world, within yet another element.
We are fascinated with the Desemparat Studio location. Can you tell us how you connect the space with your work?
Finding the studio was like destiny. I already knew it from visiting a friend that used to work here. When he left, he offered it to me and I really haven't left since. It's a little oasis within a city. It's hidden and it's very intimate. It allows me to escape the everyday noise. I also share the studio with four other artists which I think is one thing that supports me the most. I'm in constant dialogue about things happening in art.
What are you currently working on?
I'm working on several pieces and at the same time, my personal ones. Although some other works are not sculpture they are also linked to design and construction. I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful space to work in and make it all happen.
With which materials do you feel most identified?
I feel very identified with metal and have a direct connection with this material. When I was studying, I had forging classes (make or shape metal objects with heat) and I fell in love both with the technique and the result.
Is there anyone who influences your work?
My work is influenced by a lot of great artists but I'm mostly affected by people that surround me day by day and share my workshop with. Without a doubt though my great references are Oteiza, Chillida and thousand more idealized artists.
Have you ever created a utopian work that escapes your possibilities?
All my works are at first the ones I would like to do on a much larger scale. At the moment what limits my possibilities is the issue of the structure with which I would really like to turn into something much bigger.
I'm curious to know if you have ever given away or sold a work and you wish you hadn't ?
It's a fairly common question and I think that somehow as an artist you just have to stop and accept letting go off things. It did happen to me especially with the first works I made. They have a pure meaning of nostalgia for me. Although I try not to have any kind of attachment.
What is your goal or where do you project yourself with your work?
I think sculpture is the project of a lifetime. To evolve you have to go through many stages and understand the process of things. My pieces are metaphors that illustrate my way of seeing the world and thus finding my own truth.