Giles Sutherland, 'Visual Art' (The List, 558, 07/09/2006)

Alex Pollard – Torch Sculptures

Alex Pollard’s work is about bending the rules, literally and metaphorically. At first sight, his sculpture ‘Cat Monkey’ looks as if it has been fashioned out of a series of joiners’ folding rulers, made from wood and jointed in brass. This strange animal’s head and the tip of its tail appear to be made form torn corrugated cardboard. But, in the absence of touch, we learn form the work’s label that the materials are in fact, oil paint and enamel bronze. What is going on? What is Pollard up to? Why not simply use the objects themselves? On a practical level these questions can be answered simply: the various implied materaials cannot themselves be formed into some of the impossible shapes and sizes which Pollard’s work demands. His ‘pencils’ are sometimes several feet long and impossibly curved and contorted. His ‘rulers’ could not be bent and twisted into such forms if they were the real thing. The ‘cardboard’ could not perform the function it fulfils in articulating and joining the other elements in his sculpture. Pollard’s artistic games have a long history in art. ‘Landscape from a nonsense poem’, for example, refers directly to the history of trompe-l’oeil, where the eye is tricked into believing it is seeing one thing when the reality is different. The ‘pencil’ line which appears to frame this work (created as a situ mural for the exhibition) is actually oil paint, and the ‘pencils’ are simulacra. Pollard’s work is both self referential and self-consciously part of a tradition in which it assumes its rightful place.