Gibson’s detailed study of the human heart features painstakingly layered carbon fibre sheets, malleable material cured under high pressure and heat to a taut finish, for the left and right ventricles, echoing the tissues and membranes that make up the powerful heart wall. The atriums, arteries and veins are composed of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) known for its impact resistance and toughness. Capitalising on the engineering expertise he gained as a chief mechanic in Formula One, an adrenaline fuelled environment where emotions run high, Gibson’s anatomically correct Engineered Emotion sculptures display a dexterity of composition and detail. They combine an understanding of physiology with an examination of the interplay between the heart and mind – what elicits our emotions and how we experience and recognise them.
While emotions are generated in the brain, they are often felt – palpably – in the heart and expressed in these terms.
Gibson’s Engineered Emotion collection consists of five limited-edition iterations in red, purple, gold, white and pink – Heart Of Passion, Brave Heart, Heart Of Gold, Pure Heart and Sweet Heart – which require little explanation as to the sentiments they intend to portray. Tinted UV resistant coating on the ventricles adds a luminosity to each piece. Gibson also creates a bespoke version of his deskmounted sculptures, recognising that everyone’s emotional landscape has a unique topography. The elaborate but purposeful structure of the heart, blood propelled through a circuit, has evocative echoes of the racetracks on which Gibson spent over two decades. Embellished with titanium fuel and hydraulic fittings from modern Grand Prix race cars, his sculptures allow for a full and considered examination of an organ that we can’t see but can certainly sense. Gibson offers a window inside the self which we’re not usually gifted.
“A human heart is the ultimate pump,” says Gibson. “Compared against any other pump in engineering, whether it be an oil pump on a Grand Prix engine or a hydraulic pump on an aircraft, which are constructed to the highest standard, there’s no comparison in either sophistication or design. If you look after your pump, it’ll last you a lifetime. That includes being conscious of the whole breadth of human experience, not just our physical health.”
The life-size Engineered Emotion hearts are limited to only 16 sculptures for each artwork in the series however Heart Of Passion, Brave Heart and Heart Of Gold will be scaled up and incorporated into Alastair Gibson’s most exciting project to date, his latest investigation of his medium using solid carbon fibre. It continues the trajectory set by arresting pieces including God Save The African Queen, a majestic look at a human skull, and Carbon King, a lion’s head laid bare in all its potent glory.
The striking red, purple and gold hearts will be displayed at the core of Gibson’s newest work, which will be revealed in 2023 and promises to capture the viewer with its potential for performance and provocation. The specially created hearts will offer a deliberate contrast in the visual presentation of the material and Gibson’s new method of working with it, capturing the familiar woven texture as the larger piece offers an alternative and ground-breaking view.
ArtÓ gallery is proudly representing Alastair Gibson as he continues to enthral the art world with his thought-provoking sculptures. ‘By choosing to work with carbon fibre, Gibson brings care and cutting-edge craftsmanship to his art,’ says ArtÓ Founder Antony Finn. ‘He allows us to contemplate our place in the modern world and the impact of AI and technology alongside creative vision and personal experience. In presenting us with carbon fibre hearts, Alastair Gibson makes a direct comment on this juxtaposition.’