As an Englishman transplanted to the suburbs of Montreal, Québec, visual artist Alex Best knows about walking a fine line between two (or more) worlds. His portfolio displays a fascinating range, from ornate ink drawings, to provocative portraits in oil on canvas, to his most recent passion medium, plush. Back in England, Alex was always a doodler, an incessant illustrator of whatever was on his mind. But it wasn’t until recently that, with the encouragement of a friend, he started his first Tumblr account and began producing prints and his signature little stuffed figures whose name, “Twilijolies,” aptly describes their whimsical yet wry appearance.
Best’s work in ink and paper in many ways echoes the intricate designs of ancient Mayan hieroglyphics, as if the rock wall’s of the Yucatan had been infused with the funky bellbottomed and mustachioed inhabitants of the swinging 60s, their figures and faces beautifully warped by the shock of yellow submarine time travel. His explorations meander from stream of consciousness to “scream of consciousness,” as a catharsis of the everyday life we all must live comes pouring out into a web of objects, faces, and often impossible and catastrophic events. As of the last few years, Best has also taken to collaborating with members of the local rock scene in Montréal, lending his off-kilter illustration style to bands’ show posters and flyers.
His painting shows no shortage of dynamic range either. Realist yet surreal at every corner, the mundane and the fantastical live side-by-side, an inside joke that we’re somehow all a part of, however we choose to be.
And no profile of the artist would be complete without mention of his brainchildren, the madcap and aforementioned “Twilijolies.” Each one is an original creation by Best, who also has a background in fashion design and textiles. Whether you’re a kid or just one posing as an adult, these cuddly monsters smack you in the face with their twisted cuteness and demand that you stop trying so hard to be a grown-up. After all, art is supposed to be fun. By the way, Montreal rocks.