Alistair Macintyre, (born 1958), is a British artist, living and working in Reykjavík. Graduating from Cardiff School of Art in 1990, he was the Welsh Colleges Fine Art Graduate of the Year at The National Eisteddfod of Wales. His exhibition at Manchester´s Turnpike Gallery, in 1997, was The Guardian´s Nationwide Pick of the Week. Moving to Iceland soon after, he has staged solo events, amongst others, at the Reykjavik Art Museum and the Art Museum of Kopavogur. His most recent exhibition, at the Centre for Visual Arts, in the North of Iceland, opened the Akureyri Arts Festival in 2010. His work has figured in numerous group shows, and is represented in public and private collections in Iceland, the UK and America.
About the work
The ice-melt works operate somewhere between sculpture and drawing. Really the flattened remains of de-fleshed objects in the round, they allude to the paradox of the material world, and draw as their primary source from the metaphysics of landscape. Made from ice, but often shattered into explosive configurations suggestive of volcanics and seismic collision, these ultra-heavyweight drawings take on the aspect of the Icelandic terrain: flood, fault- line, bedrock and glacier sit on the paper surface as rusting fossils pressed flat by time and gravity. Coming to rest as a sediment of glacial moraine, the result is spontaneous cartography – mapped by the elements themselves, using the most minimal of palettes: ice and iron.
My interest in the massing and unravelling of nature’s architecture, as an endless cycle of collapse and rebirth, is of interest to me primarily as an intensification of time. Central to the process is material change and transformation, as solid and void exchange roles, and free-standing forms - like the land itself - strive to become flat. More recently, however, viewing the work has inevitably been conditioned by our growing realization that the earth´s systems may be irrevocably breaking down, as starkly exemplified by the shrinking of the ice-caps. The ghost presences of extinct forms stranded on the surface of the drawings, therefore, begin to take on the role of contemporary commentary.
Ice has been my medium of choice since pursuing a formative winter residency with the Reykjavík Art Museum during the mid-90s. For me it represents all matter, unique in that, as “stuff”, it spontaneously self-destructs almost immediately, collapsing the geological time-scale, and making deep time – implicitly – available in the studio, as a dynamic to tap into. The chemical process of oxidization, and the resultant skins of patina that form over days and weeks in standing pools of meltwater, compound the time reference, prompting material transmutations that push the work in the direction of alchemy.
As accumulations of heavy sediment, the finished drawings are strongly textured, with a surface crust that stands out in relief. Although compressed onto the paper, they are actually spatial manipulations stripped of the third dimension. As brittle, flattened skins of time, I like to think of them as grimy window panes to be broken through, an introduction to something we don’t yet understand – but which, intuitively, we all have an inkling of, which quantum physics is spiralling ever closer to, and which most world religions have suspected for millennia: that time is a deception, and that at some point, one way or another, we will step outside of it.