Professional welder Leben “Ben” Mjos has literally set the art world on fire with his creation of a horse sculpture with a flowing mane of flames.
Mjos has helped to construct buildings and bridges all around his native state of Kentucky during his career, but it is his fiery artwork that really grabs the attention.
Mjos, who owns Versailles-based welding, metal-working, and fabrication company Viking Iron,
has created the Brun Stallion, an iron horse head with a mane of pure flames.
The Brun Stallion, whose name derives from the old Norse word for fire, features hand-bent pieces
that form the head and neck structure, accurate right down to each steel tendon.
Mjos had started with its base structure, but admits it then felt as it had started making itself.
He said he had done so many drawings of horses, detailing their musculature, that he was just putting the pieces where they were supposed to go.
“It was an expression of what I had inside of me,” he explains. “The rigid steel in a tangible artistic expression of what is so alive about a horse.
“I wanted it to look like it was in motion even though it was standing still.
“I was working on designs, then one day I had this epiphany: the mane should be fire to capture that excitement — that feeling of freedom and speed that we all love about these beautiful creatures.”
The Brun Stallion is fueled by a propane tank, with the gas piped through the horse’s head. A flame regulator provides some control. The piece exudes a certain tranquility when the flames are set low, but bridles with aggression when the fire is turned up.
The Brun Stallion has been on display at several high-profile events. It debuted at a major Fasig Tipton thoroughbred sale in Kentucky, then was the featured sculpture at the main entrance of the Alltech Arena for the CP National Horse Show in late 2016.
The sculpture is now available for sale, but will remain available to rent for events in the meantime.
Mjos, 37, is already at work on his next design that will be inspired by horse country and fueled by his passion to “take raw things and turn them into something useful and beautiful”.
He was introduced to metalwork when he was 16, and is now exploring the artistic possibilities of the medium. Mjos had plans for a full-sized horse sculpture.
Such creativity runs in his family. His grandparents and father paint in oils, and his uncle is also highly creative.