When Anton Alvarez, as the first exhibitor in the newly re-opened Rörstrand museum, arrives in the premises on the 13th April, an exciting reconnection to Rörstrand’s spirit of ceramic discovery occurs. He’s delighted that the exhibition space, Fajansen, is a former clay preparation room. “It feels great to connect with the past, and be where history happened. We’re opening a window on to the ceramic production here”, says Anton, who works with Porslinsfabriken i Lidköping, the smaller factory which lives on after Rörstrand closed most of its production in Lidköping in 2005.
The exhibition is in three parts. Part 1, starting 13 April, involves production of the clay sculptures, where Alvarez will be working with his machine in the museum. “The making of them is a performance. There’s a beautiful transparency in seeing how they are created. I put pressure on myself, the work needs to be done quickly. The time aspect is almost a material, a certain amount of clay, a certain amount of time and then just work around it.” During part 2 the sculptures will be drying in the gallery. In part 3 they’ll be wheeled over to the porcelain factory for firing and glazing with sprays or brushes. When they are finished, they’ll be exhibited in the gallery again.
“I’ve learnt a lot from working with the staff at Porslinfabriken”.
Anton Alvarez (b.1980) is an artist, craftsman and inventor. He works in the tension between innovation and expression, himself building the systems and machines that produce his art, in an oddly spontaneous process in which the machine appears to be operating itself. Alvarez has talked about “shaping himself out of the process”. In earlier ceramic exhibitions Alvarez’s machine has been operated by museum staff, who made the artwork. This opens up exciting questions about the role of the artist and everyone’s involvement in art.
Anton Alvarez’s exhibition is a clear link back to the time when Rörstrand made ceramic art which led the field. Employed artists such as Gunnar Nylund, Carl-Harry Stålhane, Sylvia Leuchovius, Olle Alberius and Marianne Westman were allowed to work freely in their studios to find innovative expressions for their time. The artworks created a lot of interest in Rörstrand, and at best could potentially lead to profitable serial production.
Anton Alvarez was born in Uppsala, and grew up in Sweden and Chile. He studied at Konstfack 2006-2009 and then at the Royal College of Art 2010-12. Alvarez’s first machines spun threads round wood or plastic constructions, making enigmatic furniture or sculptures. His ceramic work has been delighting people and attracting worldwide attention since 2016. For Tiundaskolan in Uppsala, Anton’s old high school, he has created a public sculpture consisting of concrete pillars, cast in pressed moulds of clay. His studio is in premises which belonged to the porcelain factory in Gustavsberg.