Sullivan+Strumpf Singapore presents Alex Seton’s Once There
The works in Once There are dust cloths from Seton’s own studio, bundled and thrown on the ground, not covering nor ‘containing’ any object underneath. Defrocked of grandiose aspirations, the fabric itself becomes the subject, forcing a plainer reading and contemplation of human impact, production and our ever-expanding relationship with the material world.
“Carved fabric is a long-standing tradition in stone sculptures. Its folds and draperies were not only rendered theatrics, but also somatic covenants and signifier of identity and cultural status. The gossamer shroud in was persistently used as a veil over a subject to denote grander metaphorical concepts, such as purity, death, glory and the afterlife,” said Seton.
Seton’s influences from the ancient times as well as his contemporary interpretations of classical carvings are both embodied in the title of the show. A phrase that can be read as to mark either past, present or future, Once There proposes a hopeful arrival as much as it does a present absence. Ultimately, it instigates that curly succeeding question: what’s next?
The exhibition follows Seton’s 2018 solo show at Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney, Cargo, which featured carved representations of a seven-year accumulation of his own clothing into bales, much like that of the second-hand clothing industry.
Furthering this exploration in Once There, each drop cloth has been named after some of the first garments from the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman periods to be carved in stone (such as a Tarkhan, Peplos or Himation) – a homage to Seton’s earliest influences.
Once There concludes a successful year for the artist who was recently awarded the Mordant Family/Australia Council Affiliated Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.
Once There is on view at Sullivan+Strumpf Singapore from 22 November – 22 December 2019. Entry is free. For more information, please visit www.sullivanstrumpf.com
Once There, 2019
Sullivan+Strumpf Singapore, 5 Lock Road #01-06, 108933, Singapore
22 November – 22 December 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, 22 November 2019, 7–9pm
About Sullivan+StrumpfSullivan+Strumpf is one of Asia-Pacific’s leading contemporary art galleries, representing the most engaging Australian and international artists of our time. Founded in 2005 by co-directors Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf, Sullivan+Strumpf has spaces in Sydney and Singapore and represents 38 established and emerging artists and artist estates from across the Asia-Pacific and East Asia. The gallery presents an ambitious program of diverse exhibitions, publications and talks, and an international art fair schedule spanning Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Sullivan+Strumpf has proudly helped to foster the careers of some of the most significant contemporary artists in the region and remains dedicated to supporting artists to realise their visions and forge long-term artistic careers. www.sullivanstrumpf.com
Alex SetonAlex Seton’s artistic practice incorporates photography, video, sculpture and installation to investigate the complex relationship between form and substance. He is best known for his beguiling marble carving, applying his refined craftsmanship to unexpected forms. Blankets, hoodies, inflatables and national flags are rendered in stone, invoking a somatic paradox. By infusing the rich heritage of Classical statuary with contemporary concerns, Seton gives weight to the issues we face here and now.
In his recent bodies of work, carved clothing bales reference the free and profit-driven movement of thousands of bales of our discarded clothes – in potent counterpoint to the perilous and stymied journey of the asylum seeker. Life jackets and poolside toys become potent reminders of Australia’s troubling policies pertaining to asylum seekers; inflatable crowns celebrate the ease of contemporary life, too readily taken for granted. The creative process itself is interrogated in shows such as Roughing Out (Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, 2013) and Replicator (Tweed River Art Gallery, 2014), in which Seton explored his practice through performance, video and participatory works.
Seton has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include Cargo, Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney (2018); Monument, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney (2017); Alex Seton: The Island, Newcastle Art Gallery (2017); Someone Else's Problem, Sydney Contemporary, Carriageworks (2015); As of Today, Australian War Memorial, Canberra (2014-15), Last Resort, touring McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, Langwarrin, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne & Rockhampton Art Gallery, Rockhampton (2014-15), Refoulement, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney (2014); and Roughing Out, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, Sydney (2013). Recent group exhibitions include Young & Free | An Australian Discourse, Bega Valley Regional Gallery (2017); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2016); Contour 556, Canberra Public Art Festival (2016); Sealed Section, Artbank, Sydney (2014-15); Gifted Artists: Donations by Patrick Corrigan AM, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2014); Conflict: Contemporary Responses to War, University of Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2014); and Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Dark Heart, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2014).