On the far side of Hackney Wick, in one of the last warehouses that has yet to be converted into luxury flats, through a rabbit warren of white washed hallways and a disconcerting amount of warnings to lock doors behind you, lest a developer slip in behind presumably, is Alex Glass’ studio. The 26 year old sculptor and graduate of the Royal Academy of the Arts has quietly been making a name for himself over the last couple years. Much of Glass’ work has focused on representations of masculinity and realism and how we’re given to interpret objects.
“I’ve gotten into thinking about that Tolkien way of world building, where a completely fantastical world is created that still has a logic to it. I did quite a lot of set building, trying to create a language which is its own, I just like that sort of relationship between presentation, representation of a space and that being half way between reality and utility. Sculpture’s the most realist form of art but its interesting to play with that, it can be a little bit of a materials joke but its cool to play with that uncanny thing ” the studio is dotted with hyper realistic objects, silicone towels draped over a chairs, a stack of plaster shirts and, perhaps most impressively, a pair of bronze Speedos.
“…there’s nothing inherently erotic about a pair of Speedos but people see them as erotic.”
“I really like the idea of an everyday but iconic image being made solid, even made bronze, the whole idea of iconic images like that has been something I’ve been looking at, I’m super into comic books which is starting to feed into my work, the way that men and men’s bodies are portrayed in superhero films and comics is really interesting. When you start to look at the presentation of the masculine body in classical, neoclassical art then into the comic book and into the cinematic they’re all very similar images. There’s been a massive boom in superhero movies the last ten years and the idea of having an actor creating his own body in a shape in the image of an a fictionalised superheroic body is kind of crazy and there’s quite a nice mime of the way I feel about contemporary culture and the male body. Male fashion imagery has been like that for a while but that was niche and its changed so much and become so much more mainstream. At the same time I still have people calling me up telling me they’re collectors of erotic art and love my work which is also quite odd, there are almost never bodies in my work, but these things seem to always be sexually charged even without meaning to, there’s nothing inherently erotic about a pair of Speedos but people see them as erotic”.
“There was a weird thing that was happening for a while where almost all the shows I was invited to were queer shows and I’ve never really thought of my work like that. I am an artist who is queer but I don’t think my work deals particularly deals with that, a lot more of what I do is trying to create an interplay between masculinity and feminism, trying to think about and get other people to think about what our preconceptions are or how we pigeonhole these things, at least that’s what I hope I’m doing”.
With several shows slated for later this year it seems that Glass’ work is on its way to finding a wider audience, whether its erotic or not may be totally up to them.