“Alvarez’s practice oscillates between expression and constraint, technological innovation and traditional craftsmanship. His work is at once futuristic and atavistic.”
Daniel Penny, The New Yorker, May 2017
“Illumination comes afterwards,” writes surrealist poet Andre Breton in “The Automatic Message.” And so it is for Anton Alvarez, whose sculptures are each experiments in a kind of illumination. Like Breton’s dreamlike prose, the work gathered for NAME OF SHOW is Alvarez’s attempt to produce art automatically and without preconception, to create what he calls “non-formulated objects.” His methods and materials are diverse: mathematical formulas, a custom ceramic extruder, a string wrapping machine of his own invention. Yet they are all in pursuit of the same goal - to nd - through a combination of chance operation, formal intuition, and a few self-imposed rules, a new way of making and relating to art objects.
For the past four years, Alvarez has been exploring each of these processes in parallel. His thread wrapping machine binds together disparate materials with string, glue, and paint, producing a dazzling array of functional and sculptural works that emphasize Alavarez’s role as artist and designer; it is his hands and his body that manipulate the pieces as his machine wraps them in thread. Yet, in his extruded ceramic works, Alvarez has also sought to distance himself from his creations by relying on predetermined shapes and by passing the controls of his machine to others. His wooden assemblages seem to forsake the human altogether, instead relying upon mathematical relationships to create highly complex geometric forms reminiscent of Jenga towers built by a computer.
The objects on display at Christian Larsen bear the traces of their automatic and automated production, each pointing toward a different path for Alvarez to pursue on a greater scale. Though they are formally complete works, these sculptures are also prototypes, displayed on one large oblong plinth and sized down for artist and viewer to better physically manipulate and visually understand. ‘NAME OF SHOW’ investigates the creative tension between artist and artistic process - between man and machine - groping in the dark towards new conceptual and formal techniques, whose meaning will only become clear after the works themselves are long nished.
Anton Alvarez (b.1980) graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, UK in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include Alphabet Aerobics, National Centre for Craft and Design, UK (2016); How Long is a Piece of Thread, Xue Xue Institute, Taiwan (2016); Wrapsody, Salon 94, NY (2015). In 2016 Alvarez was included in the exhibitions Color Your Life at Daelim Museum, Seoul, Korea and Wild Things at the Texture Museum, Belgium. Alvarez’s work is included in the public collections of the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden; Denver Art Museum, Colorado, USA and the Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden as well as many prominent private collections. Alvarez was recently the subject of a feature in the New Yorker written by Daniel Penny titled The Artistic Machines of Anton Alvarez (May 2017) and in 2015 Alvarez’s rst major monograph Anton Alvarez: The Thread Wrapping Machine was published by Arvinius + Orfeus Publishing with a foreward by Richard Wentworth.