The work plays with the idea that a photograph is a frozen moment, that the moment is held in time and that the image is held physically by the Perspex box. — Alex Hartley
New works from Alex Hartley's acclaimed series 'The Houses' bring together photographic and overlaid painterly elements to examine the idea of the viewpoint, the frame and the boundary—between interior and exterior, manmade and natural environments, public and private space, two and three dimensions.
Alex Hartley's work shows us new ways of physically experiencing and thinking about our constructed surroundings. Iconic examples of modernist domestic architecture, photographed by the artist over the past twenty-five years, form the basis of these atmospheric monochrome works, in which the photographic image lies separated beneath hand-painted elements—describing and embellishing a verdant landscape—applied directly to a layer of semi-transparent acrylic. These include the first UK houses featured by Hartley, examples of British modernism that speak to the extremes of fate that befall early- to mid-twentieth-century architecture in the UK, some maintained in a pristine state, others fallen into disrepair.
For Hartley, a sense of narrative is key and these latest works feature additional natural elements—photographed separately, combined with the photographs of the architecture and then hand drawn onto the surface of the work. While different in character to his sculpture and architectural interventions, these works are an integral part of a career-long investigation into our sometimes uneasy relationship with the built and natural environments. He explains, 'In contrast to the sculptural ruins I've been making, these works attempt to look at the way these houses (often recognised as icons and listed accordingly) are kept in frozen preserved perfection, more akin to a museum object than a dwelling. The passing of time is alluded to through my addition of accelerated and untamed nature. I think the real connection in all my work is the barrier between you and the artwork. It's all about the tension of that, and what that tension gives rise to. It's a good way of telling a story.'
The exhibition is also available to view via the App Store on Vortic Collect as part of London Collective, a new section on the Vortic Collect app that brings together 42 of the UK's best commercial galleries to present exhibitions on the new extended reality app for the art world.
Press release courtesy Victoria Miro.