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I Haag 600Ida Haag’s parallel world on view at Hastings Arts Forum

A exhibition of recent work by Ida Haag opens at Hastings Arts Forum on 3 March, with a private view the following day. Brian Hick talked to the Swedish artist about the parallel world from which she draws her inspiration.

Ida Haag’s art speaks of identity, illusion, magic and nudity. These motifs conceal strong dramatic emotions, often within deceptively endearing images. In order for her to survive in the ‘normal’ world she applies special mechanisms and fictional characters that can be perceived as reality. Some of these personas are from her parallel world, Ismanien. These characters can be experienced in her art.

Ismanien is a fictional world that exists under ice. Ismanien’s characters (or personas) started to appear in my life when I was a child. I saw first my different feelings in colours and later in figures that became part of my reality. They helped and advised me on a daily basis. They still do.

Portvakten, the guardian of the gate.

Portvakten, the guardian of the gate.

Manik, the yellow character in my work, is the crazy one, who is really much too excitable and does funny things. If I feel I am ManikIgur – who is the other red persona – can come to rescue me and to give me advice on how to cope. Igur is cold, with no empathy at all, but is very nice as well. Portvakten – who is the guardian of the gate – is the white persona that looks like a human bird. She can only see things in black or white. She is very focused on what is either in front or behind her, but misses all other details. She protects Ismanien all the time. 

Blue Rabbit is the fighter, he is constantly falling down but manages to get up, again and again. He never gives up. Finally, Vera, who was human at the beginning but was kidnapped and taken to Ismanien where she turned into an ice butterfly, is an extraordinary persona. She has a huge amount of empathy and love. She is the main character in my book Ismanien. The book will be finished next year and I plan to publish it soon after.”

Ida has a BA degree in Fine Arts from the University of East London and in Sweden Image & Form from Mälardalens University, Photo & Image from Umeå University, Art & Design from Ålsta College and a background as a photographer and jewelry designer.

She has mostly exhibited abroad, including London, Paris and Bordeaux. She lives and works in Enköping, Sweden, and in Bali, Indonesia, where she also stays and work a few months a year.

Inspiration from Bali

“Bali inspires me very much and I feel more ‘alive’ there than I do in Sweden. My studio is based in Ubud, an artist town with a very creative energy.”

Ida’s studio has become her life. She feels she has no choice but to create. “My art is my survival,” she says. To get control over her emotions she breaks them down and reconstructs them in her art, bit by bit, layer by layer.

The process of working towards a final result can sometimes take up to a year. Each layer has its own story and state of mind. In real life we cannot break down emotions but we are still trying to control them.

“All the feelings we repress are always the ones that finally come up to the surface,” she says. “I know that my art raises many questions, and I like that. I do believe we see what we want to see. The majority of the visitors in the past tell me that my art is very emotional. And for me that is the most important thing. People do not need to understand Ismanien, but if the public feels what I am trying to express, I know that I have accomplished my goal as an artist.”


Exhibition of work by Ida Haag Tuesday 3-Sunday 15 March, Hastings Arts Forum, 36 Marina, Saint Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0BU. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am–5pm. Private view Wednesday 4 March, 6.30-8.30pm.


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Posted 13:01 Monday, Feb 24, 2020 In: Arts News

Also in: Arts News

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