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Question – When is a piece of junk not a piece of junk? Answer – when it is an artwork by Alexander Bartleet. To recognise the artistic ...
Question – When is a piece of junk not a piece of junk? Answer – when it is an artwork by Alexander Bartleet. To recognise the artistic and creative value in various manufactures, objects and even junk takes a creative eye, a special talent.
Up and coming young Auckland artist Bartleet has this ability in spades. He has turned objects such as old phones, toys, electronic components, bits of wood, metal and plastic into intriguing and stunning artworks. In his second exhibition of artworks created with found objects, the design and finish of the assembled artworks by the artist is something to behold. “I enjoy identifying hidden qualities of an object. I use thousands of objects to inspire new shapes and textures. I enjoy removing objects from their typical function and appreciating them for their shape and aesthetic qualities.” says the artist.
In 2012 he experimented with various metallic finishes where the objects appear as cast gold, brass, aluminium, or even rusty blocks or assemblages. Arts critic John Daly-Peoples says “Ultimately Bartleet is involved with transformation, turning raw material and simple ideas into something else. He has turned the detritus of life into expressive virtuoso creations of significance.”
Although the works appear to be randomly assembled or created, closer scrutiny reveals a painstaking process whereby each item is carefully fixed in place, bestowing the once discarded object a certain immortality not usually given to such short-lived consumer items. Often the most valuable collectibles of the 20th century ironically are now those which were thrown away due to their low value and proliferation. Baseball cards, advertising material, old toys and other consumables – they are appreciated now for their inherent design features or reflection of social and cultural history. Already viewers wonder at the rapid obsolescence of items Bartleet has incorporated into his artworks such as old cell phones, computer parts, toys, and other items that have not been seen in homes for decades. Bartleet says “Discarded objects make us realise how fast we are moving. It brings back memories when you see your old cassette player but is also shocking to realise how fast we move on and forget them.”. While the artist has no desire to emulate the famous King Midas, he is making huge strides as an emerging and innovative young New Zealand artist.
These objects the artist has re-invented not only stir up some fond (or not so fond) memories but make for fascinating viewing. All that glitters may not necessarily be gold but in this case, it is most certainly fine art.
I am attracted to things that uncover evidence of their past. In particular surfaces that become blemished and worn over time, exposing sediments, histories and provenances. This fascination has its origin in the cliff edge at the bottom of my garden. These surfaces instilled a curiosity in layered strata that expose past events and processes. Alex Bartleet, 2010
2006 Bachelor of Visual Arts, Auckland University of Technology
2007 Graduate Diploma in Advertising Creativity.
2012 Metal, Warwick Henderson Gallery
2011 10,000 Objects, Warwick Henderson Gallery
2013 Auckland Art Fair
2011 Auckland Art Fair
2010 Summer Catalogue 2010-2011
2010 Emerging Artists, Warwick Henderson Gallery.
2010 Casey Trust, NZ Emerging Artist Exhibition, Dunbar Sloane.
2010 Surface Tension, Tauranga Art Gallery.
Awards and Achievements:
2003 Encouragement, Main arts Award.
2007 Emerging Artist, Mazda Art Award.
2008 Team McMillan Emerging Artists Awards. Emerging Artist Award.
2010 Finalist at National Contemporary Art Award 2010 – Waikato Museum
2010 Finalist Waikato Society of Arts New Zealand Painting & Printmaking award 2011
Reviews & Publications:
Art New Zealand – Article 144 Summer 2012-3 “Metal Head”
December 06 / January 07 NZ Art Monthly Review.
2009 Seen the Century, 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists, Warwick Brown, p. 20.
Oh, the Relief! A review of the work of Alexander Bartleet by Warwick Brown. www.nzartmonthly.co.nz
Artwork Featured in Sideroom.com