Art in Motion: Vandalorum Presents
ART & CRAFT
Stockholm artist Anton Alvarez is endlessly exploring the depth of his innovative ideas - and the relationship between human interaction and the machine.
Since our last interview at his studio, we take the opportunity to speak with him about his latest upcoming major exhibition, Roman Toothpaste MXXI, at art and design museum Vandalorum in the south of Sweden. This time, Alvarez will be on site for the duration of the exhibition, so the space will become an immersive experience for the audience to directly see the whole process from start to finish, and the artist to engage and create a dialogue with the audience, lifting the barrier between artist and viewer.
”I will be moving around the room with my machine, and will make my sculptures which will slowly fill the room while I’m working," Alvarez describes. "We have 7000 kilos of clay to work with, so when the clay has been used up, we’re done.”
The beautiful venue of Vandalorum, nestled in the rural outskirts of Värnamo, Småland - is dedicated to presenting the most influential contemporary art and design both from Sweden and abroad. It is designed by award-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano, and Icelandic architect Sigurdur Gustafsson., and the furniture is designed by some of Swedens most prominent designers such as Bruno Mathsson and Jonas Bohlin, to name a few. One of the main spaces on site is Formlada - a 400m2 room, which is where Roman Toothpaste MXXI will take place between June 12th and November 7th.
Erik Wålström and Märta Thisner
Working with his own built machine, The Extruder, which pushes out clay into unique sculptural forms - Alvarez takes a new step by working on a larger scale than he normally does, and creating big column-like sculptures. The large space in the venue also allows him to experiment with the scale, and frees up the process of having to fire or glaze it into a finished sculpture. After creating the forms, and letting them dry naturally - he will then continue to paint the pieces, and play around with the colours, inviting the audience to interact further with the whole creative process. This is not the first time he invites them into the process.
"It's an interesting and beautiful way to create a close encounter with the audience and to show my work and process, and discuss it with them," he says. "You can look at the pieces as they are and enjoy them, but if you can go a little bit deeper and look at how they are made, it might give another layer to the experience."
The Extruder machine, engineered by Anton Alvarez
The clay columns are one of Alvarez’s signature works, which all have a unique shape and distinctly vibrant colours - from Klein blue, to pastel green, to burnt orange - adding a playful character to the pieces, as well as altering the perception of the clay material to almost resemble melted plastic forms. The extrusion process can allude to the function of toothpaste squeezing out of a tube, and the column shape itself can be seen as a tribute to roman classical architecture - hence the title of the exhibit, which Alvarez mentions came from a friend commenting on one of his sculptures on social media, and perfectly describes the whole expression of these pieces:
”It’s quite descriptive - people might question if these are meant to resemble plastic ancient roman parts of architecture, or just question what is it they are looking at…It’s a bit humorous, but also relates to history.” Alvarez explains.
This interplay between the different expressions - from machine industry, to classical architecture, to experimental craft, is what makes Alvarez works so refreshing. He redefines the whole idea of what art and design can be - without limitation or a sense of control - and just allows the material and process to define itself.
"It's an interesting and beautiful way to create a close encounter with the audience and to show my work and process, and discuss it with them. You can look at the pieces as they are and enjoy them, but if you can go a little bit deeper and look at how they are made, it might give another layer to the experience."