Photographing glass is like photographing the sunset – Interview with the Hungarian glass sculptor László Lukácsi

On the 22nd of April 2017, at the Kunsthalle in Budapest, the 2017 National Salon “All Around Us” was opened, which has reviewed the past ten years of applied arts and design in Hungary. Among the beautiful creations a glass sculpture of the well-known Hungarian artist, László Lukácsi was exhibited – and a 3D-video that was compiled from Phase One captures.

LÁSZLÓ LUKÁCSI glass sculptor graduated in 1985 from the Academy of Applied Arts in Budapest, Hungary. Foreign galleries and glass collections were immediately interested in him, and his career has been on an international stage since then. His works can be found in important international collections: he is an artist who is not only recognized in Europe but also in Japan and America. In 2010, he won the Golden Prize at the world’s most prestigious exhibition of glass, from 470 artists of 39 countries. Then in 2014 he won the jury and audience price at the Coburg Glass Prize of the European Contemporary Art Museum. He builds his artworks from flat glass and mirrors, then he forms their shapes and special internal effects through careful and precise burnishing.

Since the base material, the glass is transparent, a glass object gives different looks depending on the viewpoint and the lighting. László Lukácsi therefore chose a modern approach: on the exhibition of the Kunsthalle he published 3D digital images of his glassware, as well. We talked to him about this virtual presentation.

Why did you decided to make a 3D recording of your sculpture „Petals”?

László Lukácsi: Because such a recording provides more information about the object. It turns completely around, can be viewed from all sides, so the view is more meaningful and enjoyable, beautiful and exciting.

How was this recording made?

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the photographer Péter Peti, 64 pictures were made from the glass object with the PhaseOne IQ280 medium format camera. The sculpture was rotated at 5.8 degrees after each photo. Then the pictures were put together to a three-dimensional film by my daughter Liza Lukácsi, who studies media and art.

What is the importance of light, lighting for your creations?

In the case of glassware, there is a wide variety of illumination, and perhaps there is not only one “best lighting”. Rather, it is like the magical sunset: the instantaneous angle and power of light determines the sight. Each version is beautiful and unique. It depends on many factors how we see an object. Depending on the light, we could think of the same work that it is a completely different creation.

Do you usually play with light when installing your works?

I really would like to experiment, but I have not had time yet. For example, I have been planning an exhibition for a long time, where we could see the same object in different kinds of illumination.

How much emphasis do you place on photographing your creations?

During the college I myself tried to photograph the possibilities of my sculptures, investing in serious analogue equipment. But I have not shown the full scale ever. I simply do not have time for it. Taking a good photo, experimenting with the best shooting and lighting settings, takes surprisingly long time. Much more time, than outsiders think. I’ve always tried to make photo documentation of my finished works in the last minute, but the truth is, most of my creations are finished when the courier is already waiting in at the door.

Do you have so many orders and exhibitions?

Yes, this is partly the “curse of success” – I hope it does not sound immodest. But it also follows from my creative method. I could burnish my glass sculptures indefinitely. I want to achieve perfection, but it is impossible. I always work until the last moment on my subject, trying to approach my inner vision with the burnishing. The work is often transformed while I’m working on it. I begin working with a specific plan in my head, but as the glass is formed, I can see new features inherent in it. The object is constantly changing between my hands; in fact, only the opening of the exhibition ends this process.

It’s like your works are having their own life and you adapt to them, not just shape them. It sounds like an organic approach.

Nature is my master. It relaxes and energizes me. I am fascinated by the beautiful forms she creates. I observe the natural shapes that are pleasing to me and incorporate them into my work.

“When I saw the movie Matrix, I was overwhelmed by the technical solution that if we shoot a subject or scene at the same time from many directions, we have the opportunity to go around the object, seeing it from several directions. Of course, I did not have the opportunity to shoot with 300 cameras at the same time, but the same effect can be achieved if I rotate the subject.

In 2001, I built a rotating table with which a car could be rotated. This photographical technique is most widely used in online commerce today, but museums and collections are increasingly presenting their values ​​in 3D, as well.”

Péter Peti, photographer

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