I don't really have enough time to explain why I think the art of Alex Rose is something no one should miss seeing this week, but I thought these few poor images might do almost as well.
Envoy is showing this Irish artist's work in their space at VOLTA, and I can't say enough about it - on virtually every level. This is a breathtaking body of work, and it has been curated with an artistry and sensitivity worthy of both its exceptional beauty and the unique story of its creation - and destruction.
Rose, who lives in a cottage in Cork, has been and remains a shy young recluse who has created art obsessively for most of his life. He did have some experience with art school, reportedly graduating in the end at the bottom of his class, but he seems to be more of an autodidact. He works compulsively with found materials, reworking them until they are fully invested with his own soul. He burns or buries the art he has created, documenting its destruction; the documents themselves may then be reworked and turn up in other work. Images are uploaded for a brief time on his blog, but they are ultimately removed, so that nothing survives in the end.
Fortunately he was persuaded by the gallery's director, the artist Jimi Dams, that letting go of some pieces, letting them be seen, would help other artists, and that is the only reason that we may see some of them here. But even this fragile window, a reluctant concession to visibility, was won only on the artist's understanding that the work which survives the ordinary terms of his practice (that is, always ending with its disappearance) no longer has anything to do with him.
When Envoy began to sell work during and after a solo show last June and Dams tried to send to the artist the money he was owed, it learned that he didn't want it. The physical objects no longer existed for him, and besides, he told them, he already had a secure, though very modest job and didn't need the money. Dams suggested, and Rose agreed, that his share of any sales could be left in a fund which would help artists who needed it to mount their shows in the gallery.
A most peculiar and wonderful artist.