Alek O.

Edward Higgins White, II , 2011, embroidery on fabric, 42,5x72 cm
Armadio, 2010, wood, glue, glass, iron and brass, 60x80x60 cm

An important aspect of Alek O’s work is the imprint on her sculpted material of those who owned or used it. Wood from a writing desk, metal from a discarded key or an Aldo Rossi espresso maker received as a gift, wool from a sweater: these materials are worked to become more geometrically uniform and abstract: A two-dimensional frame is used for the wool and different-sized rectangles for other sculptural materials. The works function as metonymy for the artist, a friend or some public figure represented by their physical contact with the material or referenced by the objects and materials in the sculpture. A wardrobe thus becomes a sculpture recalling minimalist series, a shirt is transformed into the portrait of a friend or relative via the “magic contact” principle, which postulates the transfer of ownership from an object or a body to another through physical contact.

The second essential aspect of this artist’s work is the circularity or conceptual reiteration that turns a work of art into a perfect closed system. In her videos and slide shows, Alek O. adapts material from television shows following a specific principle: for example, Untitled (2007) is a collection of car chase scenes from the TV series Colombo, organized in temporal sequences from morning to night. Los Angeles 1972-73 (2007) was made by editing the same television series and keeping only scenes in which no actors appear. The conceptual and personal are intimately linked; the artist’s refinement lies in the delicate balancing of the two. The photograph Rien que les heures (2009), showing a figure diving into a swimming pool, brings to mind David Hockney’s California paintings. The artist found the photograph in a family album, but no one remembers who is in the picture or where it was taken. A visual presence stripped of its original context is a way of questioning the meaning of representation and portrayal in art. A series portraying people with animals, framed front to back, allows the viewer to see only the white space of the paper on which the photo is printed, where the artist has written the title. The impulse toward a diarylike approach or excessive personalization of the work of art is consistently moderated by the formal rigor of Alek O’s approach and her calculated conceptual musings. Each work encapsulates a series of questions/suggestions where memory, affection, nostalgia and the carefully considered loss of interpretive information converge to create an open poetic gesture.

Francesco Manacorda

Born 1981, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She lives and works in Milan, Italy.

Solo show

2010: The Thing, Gallery Vela, London, UK

Group shows

2010: Exhibition, Exhibition, Castello di Rivoli, Rivoli, Turin, Italy
Gallery, Galerie, Galleria, Galleria Norma Mangione, Turin, Italy
2009: As you enter the exhibition, you consider this a group show by
an artist you don’t know by the name of Mr. Rossi
, Ex-fabbrica Minerva, Milan, Italy
Lisson Presents 6, A Troubling Metamorphosis of Loose Ideas into Cast Forms, Lisson Gallery, London, UK

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