Alex Dordoy ‘Prepositions’

Installation view, 'Prepositions', The Modern Institute, Aird's Lane, 2024
The Modern Institute, 3 Aird's Lane, Glasgow

Alex Dordoy’s new suite of canvases produce a set of tensions, oscillating between the romantic and the sinister and continuing his interest in the dispersal of digital images – the internet’s flattening of context. His process involves a kind of shadowing of pre-existent material, meticulously tracing contours of form but also producing subtle differences and distortions. There is an irony and a distance to this approach which imbues each of the paintings with a uniquely arresting and often unsettling quality. They appear as if from a parallel world.

The exhibition title frames the works, the titles of which all include the refrain ‘Out of’. A preposition locates something, spatially or temporally, indicating its relation to other things or direction of travel. In the context of the show, the repeated phrase speaks to a state or movement, but also to a kind of lack. The paintings – all images of images – have exactly this resonant quality resulting from their shifting between and reworking across devices. Dordoy draws a comparison between the screen and the canvas, slowing down the dissemination of images through his transfer work. His intervention in a digital circuit creates the uncanny sense of alienation that emerges across the exhibition. This affect is bound to our consumption and generation of pictures in various forms in own our lives – through phones, on computers, and via databases and archives.

For all the artist’s labour there is little evidence of his hand. His formal decisions chime more truly with those of a designer or algorithm – iPhone filters and Adobe Photoshop are foundational tools in his manipulation of colour and re-editing of compositions. Dordoy often paints vicariously – reliving at one remove the act of a previous artist or maker. The paintings are based on a disparate range of sources from antiquated travel posters to stock images, which the artist manipulates on his computer before transcribing them diligently in paint.

Those familiar with a source image will note small but significant changes in Dordoy’s pieces. He often adds or cuts figures and objects, giving the works a spectral aspect as well as a sense of being outside of time. Out of Sight , 2023 takes its cue from a French railway tourism poster by artist Géo Dorival from the early 20th century but now includes a seated woman holding a parasol. Signs of the siege of Malta disappear from Charles Pears’ The Convoy Led by Admiral Vian Fighting Its Way through to Malta, 1942, in Out of Control, 2023 and instead a ghost ship appears on the horizon.

Throughout the show Dordoy draws our attention to the quality of the paintings as illusions or highly manipulated scenes, producing a compelling play of presence and absence. His utilisation of technology and questioning of the senses is summarized by the relationship between two paintings which recast stock images, one depicting human hands piled together as if bonding at the end of meeting, and the other a set of robot hands aping solidarity.

Alex Dordoy (b. 1985, Newcastle-upon-Tyne) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘Monster’, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2022); ‘The Weather Channel’, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street (2021); ‘From Svalbard Soil’ , The Modern Institute, Osborne Street (2017); ‘Model T’, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow (2015); ‘Sleepwalker’, Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag (De Ateliers Debuut serie); ‘persistencebeatsresistance’, Inverleith House,Edinburgh; Caster and Krast Crack Autumn, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2013); ReMap4, Athens (2013); Christian Andersen, Copenhagen (2012); ‘Winner’, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2009). Group exhibitions include ‘Im Frage’, Museum Valkhof, Nijmegen (2020); ‘Future Eaters’, Monash University Museum of Art , Caulfield East (2017); ‘I still believe in miracles’, Inverleith House, Edinburgh, ‘What’s Up’, Soho Revue and Union Club, London and ‘Use/User/Used’, Zabludowicz Collection, London (all 2016); ‘THE NOING UV IT’ Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway, ‘Office Space’, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, ‘Crab Walk’ and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland (all 2015); ‘DOES THE IT FIT’, curated by Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, CIRCA Projects, Newcastle, ‘A House Leaves: Second Movement’, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (both 2013); and ‘Recent British Painting’, curated by Tom Morton, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2012).