Alex Impey @ The Hunterian, Glasgow

Alex Impey's solo show in the Hunterian Gallery subtly heightens the perception of audiences to notice what usually goes unseen

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 06 Jan 2020
  • Alex Impey

A drawing from the Glasgow University archives begins -GNOSTIC CAUTERY, showing an illustration of the mythical thief who stole fire from the Gods, nailed to a mountainside and having his liver pecked out. The myth is a take on the vicissitudes of technological advancement.

Across the room, there's a drawing on the wall made from nails. It's a complicated network of lines, and its twin is down a facing corridor. The arrangement of the nails follows a diagram produced by software that predicts the movement of grassfires. The crisp shadows they cast draw attention to the four bright gallery lights above, as the constellation points to the noisy vent and plug sockets that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Around the corner, and also installed at the top of the wall, there is a sculpture of a nest made from the waste from a metal burning process. Underneath, there's a large metal sculpture that the leftovers come from. It's a straight-cut geometric rack, holding metal casts of unidentified arm or leg bones, a cold and richly abstract hyper-museological ordering of metal reproductions of specimens held by the university.

As the physical works flit from representations of fire, to nests, to animal limbs, a slideshow of digital images shows a rush of different industrial surfaces like grilles and large vents, as well as animal skin and greenery. Shown on a complicated fake wall left hovering impressively by about a metre, the projector stand can be seen behind.

From abstraction to images and back again, the works point to their own materials and surroundings, such as metal and its waste, the gallery context, the air droning through a vent. Subtly adjusting the perception of the viewer to include these inelegant excesses, small dints are made in the powerful invisibility that obscures the workings of social and technological infrastructures.

Alex Impey: -GNOSTIC CAUTERY, The Hunterian, until 23 Feb, free