Milan hosted Design Week, an event that is considered one of the most important events in the world of art and design. This year, Alex Chinnek, a British sculptor who has already become a celebrity in his field, presented his work. His works are metaphorical, original and change the perception of reality. Consider an electric tower turned upside down or a brick facade literally sliding off a building.
For Milan Design Week 2019 Alex worked on one of the buildings in Milan: the “unfastened” house became one of the most talked about installations of the Week. The sculptor's work is based on a metaphor: the building reveals its essence to us, and the past begins to speak in the language of neon space behind the lightning - the language of countless possibilities that lead to nothing and everything at the same time. Alex told Alena Doletskaya, the brand ambassador who oversaw the art project, in more detail about how the surreal house with a clasp was created. And, as in any conversation with a person of art, it was not without philosophy.
Sculpture and its place
Alena Doletskaya: Since I am Russian, I will ask straight away.
Alex Chinnek: Well, now I'm nervous.
Still would. If you were offered to move this installation to Moscow, would you agree?
I would not agree.
Because it was created for a specific location. Everything is tailored to it: size, design, logistics, as well as event timing, partnerships and visuals.
Yes, since you took Milanese architecture as a basis, with all these - what is the best name for them? - shutters …
Yes, with all this. What we did then was we walked around, within a radius of five minutes from here, and filmed buildings. Every element, every architectural ingredient in this building was found within a five minute walk. You see, all the details, be it stone, windows, shutters, corners, are together one architectural patchwork quilt. So, you can say, this is his place: this week, in this moment, in this memory. To this concept, we …
Have you come back again?
Yes exactly. But the visual identity must match the place. Or nothing will come of it. It will be incredible.
Tell me, was this project more a commission or a joint creation?
There is a difference. Artists always have patrons - this is a necessity that makes creativity easier.
Good artists are usually patient
Yes. But in this case, the relationship was just partnership. It was a real dialogue that opened a new direction for my work (read also: “8 Exercises to train creative thinking”). The conditions are completely different and I was a little nervous about that.
Well, because no one gave me a clear TK, nothing like that - it was a dialogue. And there was freedom of creativity, although I was encouraged to act in a certain way: for example, to give the work a more futuristic and positive atmosphere. And this, to some extent, ran counter to my aesthetics, because my building often seems old, worn out, as if it had always stood here. In this project, as you can see, there is also such an atmosphere, in it there is a lot of me. But at the same time, there is this huge top, which is illuminated at night, and the floor …
Yes, I saw the backlight come on
And this is very interesting for me. I was nervous about the new creative territory for me, but it was very interesting for me to master it. Rather, visit her.
Ten weeks. When I heard this term, I was literally shocked, honestly. Is it realistic to complete an architectural project of this caliber, of this magnitude in ten weeks?
We finished this project in four.
In four weeks? All this?
Yes, the whole thing in four weeks. So ten weeks ago we went to Milan and spent two weeks discussing this rare, amazing opportunity. Then there was the window in which decisions are usually made and clarified. And then everyone dived headlong into work, and IQOS proved to be an amazing partner.
They supported the creation of a series of works that I have always wanted to do; they allowed me to realize three works - extremely ambitious, but they went for it. They were not afraid to take risks. I have never worked with anyone who gave me so much confidence, it was incredible. We finished the project in four weeks, crossed Germany with him in 15 trucks, it was hard work. My studio was in charge of the basic concept and design, detailed design. We shared ready-made ideas in the process, and started building on them that very night.
About the great, the surreal and the impossible
Who do you think is better - Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid?
It's not fair
I mean, Zaha Hadid is, in my opinion, the greatest female sculptor who ever lived. That is, she is such an artist who … I like to give everything a fluidity.
Yes, I noticed
And she in a completely inexplicable way could give fluidity to any materials. This pure elegance, the ambitiousness of the sculptures, the beauty … Just an amazing architect. Frank Gehry is such confidence, his special character and playfulness. And an incredible fusion of ambition, eccentricity and good design (read also: Top 10 Anti-Trends in Design in 2019), he's just a master. They are both. I can’t choose one. You know, both of them … Zaha Hadid was amazing and Gehry was a genius.
Alex, in your work, not only in this, but in this one too, in the house of the Earl of Kent, there are certain elements of surrealism. Is this a conscious decision? Or do you just love surrealism?
I like surreal sculpture because it is material: you really distort the world, not just suggest the idea of distortion, but literally distort it. More and more often on the Internet and Instagram, artists are posting renders, visualizations of art objects that we talked about, and this is great.
We are trying to create something like this in the material world. Then the object acquires a physical presence, we experience its impact on ourselves, real or imaginary, but no less powerful from this. We are punching holes in the real world. It's great, very exciting. A person can see a work, be with it for only 30 seconds, but this is a moment of miracle, an escape from the dullness of everyday life, a hint that reality is plastic. I've always liked it very much. But for me the object must be created, be material, tangible. Otherwise, it is, in fact, not surrealism, but only a hint.
Last question. Have you ever had an idea, desire to create a sculpture or installation that you did not create simply because it was technically impossible?
Everyday. I always joke that I create problems and engineers solve them. But this is essentially true. We work together. But such ideas come up every day. This is the point. You see, if everything was easy to do, the project would not be unique. Therefore, I create tests for reality and people, but always with a positive goal in mind.
Photo: archives of press services, Instagram
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