Alexander Hoda. The Arts Gallery, University of the Arts, London.

Ballboy, Alexander Hoda, 2008

Ballroom, Alexander Hoda, 2008

Backlash, Alexander Hoda, 2008

Alexander Hoda‘s animals delve deep into the realms of a twisted imagination. Like something out of a fantasy novel they possess Predator style teeth, teats growing out of their backs and armed with weird objects of indescribable weaponry. These are potential killer creatures. Many are in chains. Suggesting a tension, a threatening danger.

Hoda varies the textures of his sculptures. Some are a matt rubber finish smoothing over any clear features. Some use Polyurethane (also used by Sterling Ruby) to create a glossy finish and a marble effect of mixed colours. This lends itself to creating morphed or melted appearances, like they are swamp monsters. Intricate features like long bony fingers come out of the blur of dripping slime that obscures most of the features. This recognition of parts but leaving the whole unspecified feeds on our fear in the unknown. Their blurry faces like a Francis Bacon painting, also de-personifies these creatures, making them more likely to be cold-blooded killing machines, whose only actions are to bread and to hunt. Like Bacon said `We live, we die and that’s it, don’t you think?”

These animals feel alive, truly solid, three-dimensional things as tall as humans. Hoda wants us to believe in these things, to see them as something that could exist and that with the lack of clear definition we can build on our own concepts of terror like in a nightmare where we can only partially make out the monster that is chasing us. Ironically having said all of this, ‘Backlash’ a grouping of what resembles two distorted walruses twisted together in a sort of mating pose has a certain likeness to Rodin‘s ‘The Kiss’, and perhaps shows that even evil slayer animals also have a capacity for tenderness.
Thursday 20 November – 9 January

At: The Arts Gallery, University of the Arts London, 65 Davies Street, W1K 5DA

Opening times: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm and Saturday 11am – 4pm

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  1. Look I tried but there’s just something kitsch about this stuff.

    When someone like Matelli or Piccinini shoots for the full museum-modelled Monty, there’s a kind of hemi-demi-semi point – when Hirst (belatedly) throws in mythical beasts, it’s labouring it, intensively.

    But that also drains freer models, such as Hoda’s, of a certain hard-nosed engagement. The work feels sentimental and yet slick, tasteful but vacillating.

    I’d go for less beast, more material, Alex.

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