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A Sculptor Making Hyper-Real Humans—and Playing God

By Guan Tan

Edgar Askelovic's latest work, a life-sized hyperreal sculpture of Rihanna.
Edgar Askelovic
Edgar Askelovic's latest work, a life-sized hyperreal sculpture of Rihanna.

"Looking at art in general, I was always thinking that hyperrealism is the top level of art," 30-year-old sculptor Edgar Askelovic muses. He has previously famously made a strangely life-like sculpture of Kate Moss and a fictitious 83-year-old Andy Warhol. "And one more thing! Tomorrow I will receive the last details for Rihanna's sculpture," Askelovic excitedly adds. 

Askelovic is based in Europe. He wouldn't pinpoint a city where he's from, for he's always on the go. "I migrate too often," he laughs. As a child, he realised he could draw well. "When I finished school, I understood that I could only do art and I am interested in art only." He enrolled in art academies and specialised in sculpture. 

Later in 2010, Askelovic completed his first hyperrealist sculpture titled "Begging Queen". He modelled the reigning Queen of England, Elizabeth II and left the sculpture by the streets. "It was my first experience in portrait sculpting. My goal was to sculpt as real [as possible]." To him, the ability to recreate a life-like human is perhaps the tallest order for an artist. 

Edgar Askelovic

"I create my artworks from start to finish. The production takes from two months to one year," Askelovic explains. He sketches his numerous ideas and leaves them to sit "for one to two months. If after this time I still want to realise this artwork, I start a project." The test of time promises a sense of relevance for the sculptures. Later, the sculpting process begins from "construction, sculpting, mould-making, casting, finishing, and personal delivery." 

When asked about his tools and materials, Askelovic thinks they are irrelevant. What's most important is the maker himself. "The main tools to create sculptures are my eyes and hands. What tools are in my hands are not so important for creation." 

The gist of making a sculpture life-like is found in the artist's acute eye for the smallest details. "The right proportions, a lively look, the skin colour. I would say that all these details are important." Yet, there is one defining characteristic – the eye. Askelovic laughs at how he tried making eyes from egg shells in 2010. "For me, the most important thing is the eye."

Edgar Askelovic

It's ironic that mere humans are trying to inject soul into a block of clay. It's as if hyperrealist artists like Askelovic were playing god. He observes, "Most hyperrealist artists are males. I believe that the reason why they create realistic sculptures is that males cannot give birth but wish to recoup this feeling." 

Yet, his pursuit to create the most life-like sculptures has only highlighted the limitations of being human. Askelovic circles back to talk about the eyes that he's been sculpting. "It is my next level to create the most realistic eyes." He is perhaps unsatisfied with the quality of the eyes that he has been making right now, and hopes to perfect them. "I believe that through eyes, you can convey character and soul." But for now, Askelovic thinks that this is one technical challenge that hyperrealistic artists like himself "still cannot reach". 

View Edgar Askelovic's works at Aspen Crow.