Fighting fire with ice cream

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the new exhibition from Alex Chinneck, opening on Thursday, has (as far as our poor untrained, screen-wearied eyes can see) very little to do with the gelato-wasting, probably ineffectual idea of Fighting Fire with Ice Cream.

Instead, London-based artist Chinneck uses industrial building materials to explore the links between theatre, art and architecture with bold, striking results.

While breezeblocks, wood chips and steel frames may not sound like the most aesthetically pleasing elements; the works on show prove that something beautiful really can come from something ugly.

Fighting Fire with Ice Cream by Alex Chinneck
Fighting Fire with Ice Cream by Alex Chinneck

The main focus of the exhibition is a series of large wooden panels, including the eponymous Fighting Fire with Ice Cream. The appearance of the piece is dictated by the flecks of wood from which it is composed; with the artist painstakingly colouring each chip with wax crayon. No mean feat, seeing as each piece can take as long as 600 hours to complete. Yup, that’s 25 days.

The works are inspired by London’s industrial, blighted outskirts; using construction materials out-of-context to imbue in them a new, abstract meaning.

Self Employed by Alex Chinneck
Self Employed by Alex Chinneck

Self Employed forms the looming centrepiece of the show – a 20-foot tall red brick chimney bent into a letter ‘C’. Two other chimneys pump smoke across the gap of the C into its based, referencing self-sufficiency.

Meanwhile, the large-scale work In Order of Appearance is created from 100 masonry blocks within a steel framework.  While the piece initially has the appearance of a wall, in a cunning trompe l’oiel Chinneck has painted the structure white, meaning that alongside the other works, it gives the appearance that a number of active blocks begin to sequentially slide out from the wall before retreating backing into it, drawing the audience in.

Fighting Fire with Ice Cream run form 23 June-23 July at See Studio Exhibition Space, 13 Prince Edward Road, Hackney Wick, London E9

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