Soldering On: The Metal Sculpture of Robert Koch
“When people view my work,” says sculptor Robert Koch, “I hope they see something that gives them a feeling of peace. Something tranquil. And I hope they appreciate the simplicity of the form.” It’s a straightforward enough statement, but in the case of this artist, whose work evinces a material-defying delicacy, it seems particularly fitting. Koch’s steel sculptures are both profoundly durable and achingly restrained. “Art is the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do,” the artist maintains. “From the time I was a small child doing art projects with my family, I just always felt I would somehow turn it into a living.”
Koch has said he is “a process-driven artist, focused on results.” His practice, which involves powerful machinery, blisteringly hot temperatures, and steel—a famously strong, unwieldy raw material—would indeed necessitate someone focused on results; after all, Koch must be concerned not just with the beauty of a finished object, but also with the practical challenges involved in its construction. Undulating, slender forms arching gracefully upward, or tightly configured spheres which seem somehow alchemically woven together rather than welded: Koch’s range is as breathtaking as the work itself. “It can be a physical challenge working on pieces that are the scale in which I tend to work,” says Koch.
It’s an undeniably physical job—and yes, Koch considers this a job, but also “a passion, a love, a way of life”—and yet despite the intensity of the process, he achieves an indelible elegance and beauty. “Perhaps the most exciting part of my creative process,” says Koch, “is the feeling I get when I finish mounting a new piece and take a few steps back and see it finally standing up on its own for the first time.”