Miguel Abreu Gallery is pleased to announce the opening, on Thursday, October 27th, of Alex Carver’s Engineer Sacrifice, his second one-person exhibition at the gallery. The show will be held at our 88 Eldridge Street location.
Across thirteen paintings ranging from the monumental to the intimately self-scaled, Alex Carver’s new work warps the world of contemporary painting. Marking an evolution in his practice of indirect image production, Engineer Sacrifice is inextricably—even agonizingly—bound up with the futurities of human imagination and our tenuous relation to the past. Proposing a confrontation with painting as both a familiar and dissimilar body, these works reveal themselves as surrogate skins contoured to the material world that gather to themselves the apparitions by which we re-envision, reconfigure, and remake it.
As the show’s distorted and fragmented emanations of appropriated image content make apparent, our desires to refashion the world are never merely aspirational nor naively utopian. Continuing his interest in the visuality of body processing, Carver derives his imagery from two references depicting technologies servicing torture and execution: the quasi-mythical Brazen Bull and the Catherine Wheel, an historical ubiquity throughout Europe from antiquity to early modernity. A phrase like ‘drawn and quartered’ takes on new resonance in light of Carver’s work, tracing the dismemberment of bodies—surgically, punitively, and sacrificially—as a practice that transits from cultural incarnations of authority to graphic indices and icons of the cyclical creation and decreation of human bodies.
Taken as raw material for artmaking, these images become engines for the collapse and reconstitution of painting itself. Orienting us to the figural rather than the figurative, toward the space of forms that mediate human interaction with the world rather than representations of that world, Carver guides us into new aesthetic experiences of an increasingly fraught human becoming. Figurative aspects that are receding, dissolving, combusting and breaking apart enmesh within a process prefiguring uncertain futures. As such, the new image at work throughout Engineer Sacrifice generates itself as a conceptual body which is only skin, our techno-cultural cognate or bodiless prosthesis.
Stretched as conventional canvasses, these skins exhibit perforations, exposing gessoed ground that appears among the meshes of circuitry akin to voids in a digital point cloud. In scanning technology, point clouds refer to coordinates in space the correlate to the objects being observed, translating them computationally into a three-dimensional map. In Carver’s paintings they are notations of the Engineer: matter is sublimated to the virtual; material solidity metamorphoses spontaneously into a rationalized gaseous state. The traces of ground obscure this cartographic radar, casting opacities that refuse the complete technologic capture of bodies in flux. In this way, they are like stigmata in the painting’s membrane, a return of the sacral that preserves some semblance of the body from its total appropriation as data. Engineer Sacrifice relocates the human haunted by its own advancement, navigating an unsteady figural terrain shaped through the harrowing interplay of eclipse and renewal.
Alex Carver (b. 1984, Boise, Idaho) lives and works in New York and Boise. He earned an MFA from Columbia University, and a BFA from the Cooper Union. In 2021, Carver’s work was featured in Potent Stem, his second solo exhibition at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin, as well as Our Other Us, the 4th Art Encounters Biennial in Timisoara, Romania, curated by Mihnea Mircan and Kasia Redzisz. He had his first solo show, External Fixation, at Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York, in 2019. In 2018, he participated in the collaborative two-part painting show Bubble Revision, Miguel Abreu Gallery and Call Out Tools, Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler with Avery Singer and Pieter Schoolwerth. His debut solo exhibition, Cell, was held at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler in 2018. Carver’s collaborative feature film with Daniel Schmidt, The Unity of All Things, was presented at the 2013 Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland. Other film works have been shown in international venues and festivals such as Tate Modern (London, 2014), Berlinale (2015), and the Vancouver International Film Festival (2013), among others.