For the first in Blain|Southern’s new series of exhibitions, collectively titled Lodger, its curator Tom Morton has invited the young, London-based artist Alex Dordoy to develop a new body of work exploring a central characteristic of twenty-first century visual culture: the restlessness of the image, and the instability of the surfaces on which it manifests.
While Dordoy’s sculptures, paintings, and silicon ‘skins’ are preoccupied with their own materiality – their unique and bounded ‘thingliness’ – they are also deeply porous. Poised between representation and abstraction, the organic and the digital, his work appears to have been pollinated, or perhaps infected, by stray data. The broken Moebius strips of his sculptures employ wet jesmonite to absorb gestural passages of paint, the impress of corrugated card, and printed imagery including kimono patterns, alchemical symbols, and the artist’s own digital photographs of forest landscapes. Is this density of visual incident at odds with these sculptures’ modest – indeed domestic – scale, or is it only natural in an era in which that most commonplace of objects, the smartphone, seems to suck a whole universe of information out of thin air?
Hanging from the gallery walls, and existing at an ambiguous point between painting and sculpture, Dordoy’s ‘skins’ are made by using liquid silicon to cast the interiors of old photocopiers. Once dried, this fleshy material picks up not only the machinery’s inverted form, but also the streaks of ink and dirt that have built up in its hidden ridges and gullies – traces of its history of use. For all the ghostly charge of these works, they also reflect on photocopier technology’s enduring place in daily life, despite its long-predicted obsolescence. Notably, the artist has described the lumbering Xerox machines that linger in our offices, libraries and copy shops as ‘human’ presences. Perhaps what we value in the photocopier – and the paper document – is not convenience, but the way it affirms our own physicality in an age of weightless, endlessly reproducible code.
The images that appear in Dordoy’s paintings are initially composed using cut paper. Next, they undergo countless digital tweaks in Photoshop, until the relationship between their bold colours and simple, abstract forms achieve the necessary tension, and they are finally transposed to canvas. While their large size insists on their object-hood, the precision of their formal elements speaks of their genesis as much-overwritten files. Perhaps a painting, today, is simply a technology for freezing the restless image, for fixing its coordinates in time and space. And yet, as the title of Dordoy’s exhibition, The Moss is Dreaming, suggests, even the most immobile of objects still fizz with lively data – on their surfaces, or deep within themselves.
Lodger is a new series of exhibitions at Blain|Southern, conceived by the writer, independent curator, and Contributing Editor for frieze magazine, Tom Morton. Running concurrent to the exhibitions in the central space, Lodger will expand Blain|Southern’s programme into new territories, often spotlighting a younger generation of artists. Alex Dordoy’s inaugural exhibition will be followed, in late November 2017, with a solo show by the performance artist and sculptor Sophie Jung (b. 1982, Luxembourg). Details of the following exhibitions in this series will be announced shortly.
Tom Morton’s exhibitions include Äppärät at the Ballroom Marfa, Texas (2015), British British Polish Polish at the CSW Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2013) the touring surveyBritish Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet (2010/11, with Lisa Le Feuvre), and How to Endure at the 1st Athens Biennale (2007). He has worked as a curator at Cubitt Gallery, London and the Hayward Gallery, London, and his writing has appeared in numerous exhibition catalogues and anthologies.