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Alex Seton

Artist 303

Alex Seton

Marble Sculpture

Alex Seton (born 1977) is an Australian artist known for his contemporary use of marble carving. He also works in sculpture, photography, video and installation.

His work investigates 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.

His sculptural works are often seen on a large scale. He works with raw hewn blocks of marble carving out partial appendages that protrude from different, textured surfaces. The resulting effect lands ambiguously between a figure trapped in the stone, and an animated stone-like figure.

Throughout his practice he has used the techniques and languages of classical statuary and monument, playing with, inverting and exaggerating them to create works that reflect on the contemporary world.

His recent work engages directly with contemporary political issues, such as Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, and questions of conflict and nationhood. Through his work, Seton attempts to grapple the grander narrative through a humanist lens.

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.

Seton’s exhibitions propose a conceptual tension between real objects and their representations in marble, a material associated with wealth and status. “In the past I’ve used marble to look at things like symbols of empire or the memorialisation of the everyday,” he says. “There’s a privilege that goes with these over-manicured pool toys but [the exhibition] is also about the material of marble being a signifier of wealth that’s held over other people.”

“...In and of itself, my work doesn’t take much of a political stand; it’s simply laying bare the humanity of an issue. I hope that comes out. I try to remain neutral about it. I don’t want to knock people over the head with it, but the context is undeniable. I try to create a context around an object. I’ve developed a trust in the audience and that they will understand in some way.”

Sources consulted


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