Alex Gross bends reality while commenting on it, using disruption as a means of jarring one loose from the long range stare so commonly found in the faces of resignation. Injecting his work with technology, branding, and other fast-paced mechanizations of the day, Gross reveals a lower vibration that the mundane nature of every day life can cast on any of us. He perfectly executes and co-mingles history, war, and vanity, as they inhabit concurrent spaces with great detail & symbolism. All the while, he hints at the certain value he sees being obstructed by a lot of bullshit, while having a keen sense of design and a twinge of dystopia.
Recently, Alex posted process photos of a massive painting he completed, and the daily evolution of the work provided a glimpse into the mind of the artist, revealing how his works come to life as he seemingly blends innumerable surrealities. Ahead, we discuss a few of his paintings and uncover his method of creating, while getting his view on the matters at hand in the artworks themselves. Between the billboards, drugged faces, stealth bomber’s and Vladimir Putin looming, Alex creates situations only he could have dreamt. Cutting between the cacophony of the 24 hour news cycle and asking a few questions with the stroke of his brush, we’re pleased to bring you this exclusive interview with an artist who has topped our list for a while now; the inimitable, Alex Gross.
Evan La Ruffa of IPMM: Hey Alex! We’re stoked to catch up with you, your paintings have made a huge impression upon us at IPMM. Thanks for sending us a copy of your book by the way, it’s far out.
Alex Gross: My pleasure.
EL: Secondly, are you sure Frederick Douglass’ favorite ice cream flavor was Strawberry?
Alex Gross: No, but its my favorite flavor. I don’t know if ice cream was even invented yet in his day. It’s also the best flavor to paint since it adds a dash of color. Vanilla and chocolate obviously are less visually exciting.
EL: It’s hard to pick a favorite among your paintings, but “The Last Judgement”, “Android”, and “Original Sin” are certainly in the running. They exist at the nexus of surrealism and sociology. Tell us about them.
Alex Gross: ‘Android’ and ‘Original Sin’ are done within a couple years of each other, and ‘Last Judgment’ is several years before them. I have work on my website done around 2001 too. So, there are lots of years in between some of the works. Obviously, I feel strongest about the more recent work, and I feel that the newer works have a closer connection because I am a more mature artist and have been trying to hone what I do now after so many years.
EL: It shows.
Alex Gross: ‘Android’ and ‘Original Sin’ are both clearly modern, contemporary images. They do not reference the past. They both deal with themes of consumerism, and mass marketing. ‘Original Sin’ conceptually references the garden of eden, but not visually. I think these pieces, and my other recent work, are all connected by this constant referencing of the modern condition. ‘Last Judgment’ is more victorian, because of the clothing and Frederick Douglass.
It also references gothic Christian artwork from the early renaissance. I think it has a very different feel than the other two works. Obviously, it has some modern elements like ice cream, the interracial wedding ceremony, and the crashing zeppelin in the background. But still, I think it exists in a slightly different plane than the other two. Perhaps in a more surreal, retro world. I’m not sure exactly….
EL: You recently shared lot of detailed photos of the process of painting “Android,” a massive painting you worked on diligently. I have to say, as fans of your work, seeing it come together with regular updates on Facebook was a lot of fun.
Alex Gross: I’m glad you found it worthwhile. It’s hard sometimes to know how to best use social media, other than to just share new work, when possible. One thing that I always have liked from other artists is seeing their process. I find it really interesting and valuable to see. So, I often try to take process photos of paintings as I work on them. Sometimes I share these steps on Facebook. I get nice feedback about it, and I’m glad that some people appreciate it.
EL: You also participated in the Pulse Art Fair in Miami, how was it? What artworks did you feature?
Alex Gross: The Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York featured several new pieces of mine at the Pulse Fair. I gave them 4 new works – ‘Android,’ ‘Facade,’ ‘Dave Willis,’ and ‘Schadenfreude.’ They also brought one piece from my last show, ‘Cascade.’ I also gave them about thirty mixed media cabinet card paintings for this fair. They had some other artists’ work as well, but I had the most in the booth. It was nice to see it there. I had never done an art fair before, so this was a first for me.
EL: Do you prefer huge events like that, or too much for ya?
Alex Gross: The obvious difference from an art fair to a solo exhibition is that at my solo exhibition, everyone is there to see my work only. At an art fair, I am one among many, many other artists showing. There are pros and cons to each. Clearly at an art fair you have an opportunity to be exposed to a new audience, which is very important to me at this stage in my career.
A solo exhibition is more of a social event since there are lots of friends, family and collectors there to chat with. I am glad I did the art fair and I would definitely do one again. The large crowds and the whole ‘scene’ there in Miami can definitely become tiresome, but I don’t have a problem with it. We didn’t go crazy trying to attend all the cool parties and stuff like that. We just had a good time, saw some friends, checked out some fairs and went to the beach.
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