Siegfried Contemporary and Espace Muraille are pleased to present Visual Vertigo, a solo-exhibition of new works by Anton Alvarez.
Alvarez invents the machines that make his sculptures, and with them creates his own rules and challenges. This ongoing investigation of art and authorship began with a polychromatic thread-wrapping machine that bound together wood forms into functional furniture and abstract, architectural art. The exploration continues with his current project, a monolithic clay extruder that, at the push of a button, ejaculates (or defecates) entire sculptures. The process is not absolutely automatic, it requires an operator’s negotiation of pressure, speed, height, impact, intent, and aesthetic judgment. Not that the operator has to be the artist himself, but this is a world of Alvarez’s own making, and it is, in that sense, his alone to manage and master.
Part of what’s captivating about Alvarez’s art is that the evolution of which he speaks is towards something that seems uncertain to the outsider: Is it progress towards ever greater mastery of the machine or of the material, or a greater blurring of the lines between authorship, art, engineering and craftsmanship? The questions seem to proceed endlessly until the absurdity of art as self-imposed problem solving becomes emblematic of the whole human endeavor – a self-generated, self-referential land and divine comedy.
Alvarez is currently investigating alternative possibilities with the machine, looking at the structural capabilities of thread-wrapped fabric and the decorative details made possible by mixing the glue with paint. "I have full control over the development of the machine," said Alvarez, explaining that the set-up allows him to be independent from industry as well as from tradition. "I can freely experiment and develop it according to what I discover are my needs in this new craft." It is a thought echoed by Glenn Adamson, director of the Museum of Art & Design New York, when he recently wrote, “The 21st-century maker has flattened traditional hierarchies and escaped rigid categories of production through post-disciplinary practices and the innovative application of skill and technique.