“Erratics are boulders or rocks lifted, transported and deposited to an unfamiliar environment, far from their original location, by glacial movement”.
Back then I was immediately struck by his subtle use of materials, and the ways he managed to subvert their actual meaning alongside their physical presence.
Take Truncated Spur for example with its ramp like form, corroded copper rods and concrete solidity offering a time worn and rigid permanence. Made from jablite with purposely corroded patinated copper rods.
Close inspection of Alex’s work belies an immediate assumption.
As with his four new pieces showing at Nottingham Castle’s Open 2012.
Placed in the middle floor space amongst the walls of salon style Old Masters. They have a presence that neither intrudes on nor excludes the surrounding work. They just are …very much Alex Pains art.
The four immediately strike you as a whole, a connection of an idea of form and structure which travels through his art.
Alex's use of foam and jablite (polystyrene insulation
material) give an overall sense of topsy turvy weightlessness to the pieces.
Especially from the suspended Order Emerging From Chaos, Or Architecture Reclaimed By Nature.
Although rough hewn with a stained-like sliced and hacked exterior, it still suggests a softness through its recognisable natural foam state. The application gives an idea of another more rugged terrain, of a rock face for example. And gazing into its interior more closely you are also struck, by regimented sometimes gleaming, metal razor teeth. Protrusions sliced into the dark, smooth-hewn jablite of this rock like cavern. All this waiting to descend frighteningly from the trapeze wire suspension above with its suggested sheer weight. Standing underneath you feel the sense of a would-be-coffin.
I found the upside down nature of this chair-like structure, sealed in with flashing strip and buffered with underlay, spoke of all the usual orders of structure used in architecture. And although it looked as though it had been turned on its head at the same time it made sense as a form. All the weight bearing elements of the materials used being true to their inner core of physics. So imparting a logic as to its purpose.
A ridged piece towering high. A notion of a place to sit at the top, with a patinated copper seat or possible slide. The foam although of dark grey solidity still giving no clue to its real physical susceptibility. If a breeze were to blow would it topple?. The corrugated teeth although set slightly off kilter with each other, as are want of grinding jaws, are given sharpened bite as copper sheets fit strongly and neatly along the cutting edges. Adding to the impression of an insecure but impenetrable and lonely place of rectitude or governance.
As with Alex's earlier work from 2011 this echoes the notions of structure being held within an unlikely material. The wrapped and impenetrable aspect from one side looks reminiscent of shiny gold (brass) wrapping paper. Suggesting a child like temptation to unwrap. On a larger scale it could be seen as the kind of gleaming polished and smart exterior of so many skyscraper buildings. Built to eschew confidence in their surrounds and their clients. Turn the corner on this piece and you find again the double question of exposed interior held no less uniformly and sleekly within its brass strapping. A do not cross the line brass strip, with the notion of that initial promise of the exterior being not what it seems. By holding something stark, bare, dark and possibly rough to the touch.
I’m becoming more and more intrigued by Alex’s art. A fascinating body of work and study of materials and aesthetics, which engage in our reactions to them and with each other. A distinct cognition of how they are used and work within our environment.
There are further images and video of his new work here. Erratics will be showing at Nottingham Castle Gallery until October 28th (note the opening times are changing for winter this week 10 am until 4 pm last admission 3.30)