John Alexander, The Mighty Crustacean, 2019. Charcoal and pastel on paper, 40 x 60 inches. Photo: Jenny Gorman. Courtesy of the artist and Berggruen Gallery.
EAST HAMPTON, NY - Berggruen Gallery is presenting John Alexander: New Paintings and Drawings, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Texas-born, New York-based artist John Alexander. This show marks Alexander’s third solo exhibition with the gallery and will be on view August 11 through September 12, 2021.
John Alexander’s most recent body of work presents a detailed collection of botanicals, sea life, birds and animals – each subject a representation of the artist’s own mind and experiences. Alexander grew up between the bayous and the wooded wilderness of East Texas, enjoying camping and fishing trips within the lush, diverse landscape that would ultimately become so influential to him. Moreover, Alexander’s understanding and appreciation for the natural world was fortified by his father’s environmentalism. For Alexander, developing an environmental acuity, especially for his native Texas, was familial. Today, the artist creates work in reference to the nature-based consciousness he developed in his youth.
The introspective nature of Alexander’s work is revealed through the artist’s keen observations of his surrounding environment and the vivid way in which he paints his subjects. Employing bold, painterly strokes, Alexander maintains an acute sensibility of his subject matter – whether it be the detailed rendering of the spiny lobster, an expressive portrayal of cardinals and Eastern bluebirds perched on branches, or the vibrant depictions of florals. The artist also injects elements of whimsy; the playful monkeys peer out of their canvases engaging the viewer directly. Thus, each work is imbued with an authentic, raggedly pristine, emotional sense of the earth we inhabit. In this way, Alexander creates scenes that are deeply personal, yet also shared...nostalgic yet ongoing...exotic yet familiar...of the world yet otherworldly. Saturating his landscapes with humor, sentimentality and veneration, Alexander reveals as much about himself as he does about nature.
The of paintings and drawings in the show, come together to celebrate the raw and beautiful qualities of the natural world. Invoking his experiences in Texas as well as Amagansett, Alexander carefully composes bucolic images through the juxtaposition of reality and idealization. Perhaps most unexpectedly, Alexander nods to the Abstract Expressionists, applying thick strokes of paint in a gestural, emotional meditation. In turn, this body of work pays tribute to the long and varied legacy of floral and faunal painting before him while simultaneously remaining true to his very personal connection to nature. Through the amalgamation of art historical context, environmental conservation and the integration of a more intimate narrative, Alexander produces a body of work that is raw, compelling and perhaps above all else, natural.