Salone del mobile and Fuorisalone 2019

Anton Alvarez captures molten wax forms in bronze

Alvarez built a wax extruding machine that shakes up the bronze casting process, and presents 12 resulting forms in the serene setting of Church San Bernardino alle Monache in Milan. 

Swedish-Chilean designer Anton Alvarez creates the works during a residency at the Milanese bronze foundry, Fonderia Artistica Battaglia. He was the first to enter the new residency programme set up by the director of the foundry's design department, Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, to bring innovation to the traditional lost-wax process used in bronze casting. 

Bellavance-Lecompte was drawn to the self-made machines Alvarez had been using over the last couple of years to produce his work.

"My idea is to bring innovation to the historical bronze foundry by bringing creatives who can think out of the box in terms of ceative process to work for the first time with bronze," he told Domus. 

"I've had this dream of working with bronze and maybe with wax, and it felt like it was the perfect moment – I really was looking for that question from someone," adds Alvarez.

Alvarez produced a machine called the Extruder for the project, a cylindrical barrel that's filled with molten wax before being pushed through a plate similar to those used to form pasta. 

"It works a bit like a pasta machine," explains Bellavance-Lecompte. "The wax comes out and floats in the water while he creates the shape he wants – it's like giving birth in water really."

Typically artists and designers model their work in plaster or wood, before a wax cast is made for the bronze moulding stage. By working directly in wax, Alvarez cuts a step out of the traditional process. The exhibition is titled L'ultima cera (The Last Wax), after the process. 

The resulting forms are down to a degree of precision created by the machine and chance. When the molten wax falls from the machine into a cooling pool of water, Alvarez has only moments to assert any control over the form. 

"I love that chance formation aspect in my work," says Alvarez. "The pieces comes out and sometimes they're good, and sometimes they're bad."

"When I make the machine I have the role of designer and engineer, I have different goals I might want to pursue, the technical aspects of it," he continues. "But when the machine is done I might make sculptures, I might do objects, furniture, vases, vessels – and here is a little bit of an example of this. They are usally referring to a function."

Knowing the resulting work would be displayed within a church, Alvarez settled on 12 forms in reference to The Last Supper. Each is a variation on the form of the other, some are left untreated while others are oxodised with acids to give a green-blue or black pattination.

Incense, low lighting and a soundtrack created by Alvarez's brother add to the theatricality of the setting. 

The exhibition closed on 13 April – one day earlier than other Salone shows – to  allow the space to be cleared in time for Sunday mass. 

Exhibition:
L'ultima cera
Curator:
Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte
Designer:
Anton Alvarez
Location :
Church San Bernardino alle Monache via Lanzone, 13, Milan
Opening dates:
7-13 April 2019
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