Alek O.


The transformation of a life, the metamorphosis of fragments of existence, the awareness of having to rethink and relocate a past. Alek O. starts out from physical shreds of reality that are steeped in memories and experiences, taken out of context, broken down and reformulated in different guises. Found and collected objects – sometimes the artist’s own – become the raw materials for composing new geometrical shapes that are apparently abstract but that are laden with memories.

Parasols, gloves, tables, cupboards, coffee pots, pans and sweaters that have been through countless stories and times, are transformed by the artist’s hands, becoming hard to recognise at first sight. Assembled, mounted and compressed, fused together and processed by the artist, the physical presence of these objects might erroneously lead one to think of them as tributes to minimalism, and yet they could hardly be farther from the historic movement in terms of process and concept.The key to all Alek O.’s work is in its aesthetic and narrative emotivity. Edward Higgins White, (2010-2014) is a series of works based on discoveries, on experiences and on the time of reformulation. Lost gloves, found unpaired on the artist’s wanderings, shaped by wear, often soaked by rain and permeated with life, lose their primary function and turn into two- dimensional embroideries, finding new meaning in pictorial representation. Keys (2010) is a fusion of all the useless keys the artist found at home before moving house. Corkscrew (2010), a brass plate that uses the same technique, is actually a late-nineteenth-century corkscrew that belonged to Alek O.’s forebears, while Desk (2009) is in fact the desk the artist used for many years, reduced to shreds: the wood was turned into shavings and then stuck back together to make a solid table, with the steel part melted down and turned into a plate and the plastic parts amalgamated, with only the cloth remaining intact. What emerges is a wall-mounted composition, geometrical and minimal, far from the form and function of the original and yet made with the same materials. Materials on which existence makes its mark, with the scars of accidents endured, are clear to see in the Tangram series, in which the fabric of old parasols goes back to its basic form, creating new shapes that at times recall animals.

Historically bound to a life, these objects become ruins in the Benjaminian sense of the term. No longer abandoned items but works in their own right, and different from what their past experience proclaims, they allow the viewer to perceive the diverse relationships between the forces of nature and the essence of emotions. Deprived of their principal function and of their original physical presence, Alek O.’s works are transfigurations that remain faithful to themselves, introspective and laden with memories, bearing witness to a life and to how it can change and acquire new form in something else. Formal discipline and affections, nostalgia and loss come together to compose a subtle but open poetic gesture.

Ilaria Gianni


We consider creation, memory and recollections as positive processes. Even quite literally, for they bring about something that was not there before or they preserve it from the ravages of time and, by doing so, they increase its value.The philosopher Georges Bataille reflected long and hard on what it is that increases value: of a product, through the legalised theft of the autonomy of those employed to make it, of a show, through expenditure and a pointless waste of resources and opulence, of a moral precept, through the sacrifice it imposes on those who wish to make it a cornerstone of their own lives. For Bataille, increased value coincides with sacrifice and pure loss, and the greater and more irreversible this loss is, the greater the value it creates. So which part of the value of something is its added value?The most accursed part, the part that comes from sacrifice.

Alek O.’s entire work appears as an attempt to isolate and pick out this accursed part. Her fusions and deconstructions of objects linked to her own private life and past create almost regular geometrical shapes that are aesthetically appealing but unrecognisable.They reveal the price of memory, which slots facts and memories into manageable forms, turning them into precious little icons at the cost of irreversibly altering their substance. Her almost geometrical embroidered paintings are an attempt to restore an order that is both aesthetic and logical to the disordered but personal material of a sweater she has worn for years. By doing so, and by thus creating a work of art that crystallises a memory, she naturally destroys the original object forever, sublimating its affective value in the aesthetic value of the final object. In her performative rather than constative being, her self portrait is made possible by sacrifice, only in the name of which the work acquires its meaning (both aesthetic and logical, which is to say its title). These are three ways of reflecting on how we attribute meaning to a thing (through memory, through thought, and through the creation of a work of art); and on how this enriches and, at the same time, irremediably alters it.

What remains of the original objects – of the undone embroideries, of the cut hair? Nothing, absolutely nothing. There is a hypothetical trace in the story that revolves around the works, and its shadow can be sensed in the explanations and titles. Like dark matter, invisible but postulated to explain the forces that prevent the universe from falling apart, their influence is what gives unity and significance to the final objects. What they were still defines what they are, but from a distance. Even though they no longer exist, it is still a part of them. One wonders what the name of this part might be.

Vincenzo Latronico


Alek O., Buenos Aires, 1981. Vive e lavora a Milano – Vive y trabaja en Milán – Lives and works in Milan


2005 Laurea in Disegno Industriale, Politecnico di Milano, Milano


2014 Frieze Focus, Londra If There Is A Last Summer

Morning, Frutta, Roma
2013 On Parasols, Jumpers and

Balls, Meessen de Clercq, Bruxelles

Uprisings: Alek O., MOSTYN, Llandudno

2010 TheThing,GalleryVela, Londra

Rien que les heures, Le 10rd, Nizza


2015-2016 Ennesima, a cura di Vincenzo de Bellis,Triennale, Milano

2015 TAVERNA – We are open (Icastica 2015), a cura di Ilaria Gianni, Fraternita dei Laici, Arezzo

What is a Bird? We Simply Don’t Know, a cura di Domenico de Chirico, Galeria Nicodim, Bucarest

Fantastica.The way we make art, BeatTricks, Milano

Alek O. and James Viscardi, Carl Kostyál, Stoccolma

Le regole del gioco, a cura di Luca Lo Pinto, Studio Castiglioni, Milano

2014 The Go-Between – una selezione di artisti emergenti internazionali dalla collezione di Ernesto Esposito, Museo di Capodimonte, Napoli

SMALL Rome, a cura di Adam Carr, Frutta, Roma

Ab-Stretching the Canvas,

Jeanine Hofland, Amsterdam

Non-Profit & Profit, SpazioA, Pistoia

Accordion, Laura Bartlett, Londra 2013 Grand Opening, Frutta,


Premio Moroso, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venezia

2012 Lucie Fontaine: Estate, Marianne Boesky Gallery, NewYork

Detective, Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna

Without (Jonathan Monk),

Meessen de Clercq, Bruxelles

Everything old was once new,

National Trust and Arts Council Collection, Worcester

An Incomplete History of Incomplete Works of Art, Francesca Minini, Milano

Als Morandi mit der Kinematographie liebäugelte, Supportico Lopez, Berlino

D’après Giorgio, Fondazione Casa Giorgio de Chirico, Roma

Differenza e ripetizione, Galleria Lia Rumma, Napoli

2011 Premio Ariane de Rothschild, Palazzo Reale, Milano Premio Illy Present Future, Artissima 18,Torino
To see an object, to see the light, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, Guarene

Domesticity, Biennale di Praga 5, Praga

Quiet Like a Lake, Unosunove, Roma

Like rowing a boat; facing the way you came, Gallery Vela, Londra

V Bienal de Jafre, varie sedi, Jafre Exhibition, Exhibition, Castello di

Rivoli, Torino

2010 Saturday, Sunday Fair, Berlino

Certo sentimento, Cripta 747, Torino

Olivia Flecha, Alek O., Helen Marten, Gallery Vela, Londra

Gallery, Galerie, Galleria, Norma Mangione Gallery,Torino

2009 Lisson Presents 6, A Troubling Metamorphosis of Loose Ideas into Cast Forms, Lisson Gallery, Londra

Italian Open, Annet Gelink, Amsterdam

Territoria 4, The Great Leap, Centro per l’arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato

Playlist, neon>campobase, Bologna

2008 Seek Refuge, Venezia Village, Venezia

Onufri Prize 2008, National Gallery, Tirana

Don’t disappear, Expotrastiendas, Buenos Aires

2007 La legge è relativa per tutti, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, Guarene


Opere in Mostra