Alex Blau’s current exhibit at Zeitgeist, Chasing the Sun, examines gesture, color and complex abstract space through painting. Read our conversation with her about the new show below.
How does the work in this show relate to your earlier work?
These paintings are an exploration of the spatial discoveries implied by the looseness of my last body of work, Night Swimming. I was particularly excited about the imposition of a variable grids/plaids on amorphous liquid pools and spills with super electric colors. It has allowed me to reconnect and tweak the obsessions that fuel my daytime seeing.
What new elements are you playing with?
In keeping with this idea of knitting in snippets of past favorites, I have been compressing space, having the present exist with a daydream or a memory. This different type of space I have been moving towards has also allowed for shapes in some of the paintings to appear more like figures in dialogue. In terms of process, I have been a little more physical with this body of work, scraping, sanding and using indirect actions to create the image.
Where do you find inspiration?
Geez, it’s everywhere. These relationships exist in the micro and macro and visit me in the carpool line or walking the dog.
Where do you find new candies and snacks? When did you start saving the wrappers?
I started taking/collecting photographs for an inspiration wall. I began to correlate some of the colors and patterns in signage to wrappers on the ground thrown away as garbage. I did pick up some of that, take pictures of it and started buying and saving items that caught my eye. By now my friends all know my weirdness and bring/send me wrappers from trips. The inspiration wall is growing even now!
What is your process like? How many pieces are you working on at one time?
My process involves a lot of looking, verging on procrastinating. I normally work on 5-8 paintings at a time. In my attempts to find the next move, I often rearrange work on the studio wall to see if parts of paintings will run off into other paintings. I also arrange leftover patterns, drawings and other collected inspiration material to see if it can find a way to get it into the work. Things get played out in blue painters tape and paper fragments collage-style. For instance the checkerboard paper from the bottom of a takeout container could be used as a pattern. Once I make a decision, it usually involves a lot of tape and airbrush. Paint one layer over a tape mask and then - if all looks good - everything gets a coat of acrylic. Then do it again and again and again.
How does having a studio at home impact the time you spend in the studio?
It has been great, beyond my typical working hours, there is nothing to stop an hour here and there. And, I can just take a peek before work or bed.
Is it important as an artist to stay on top of what’s happening in other cities? How does travel inform your practice?
It is, and I have a lot of wish-list trips, but don’t get to a ton of new cities. Honestly we get to NYC a lot, but the trips that make the biggest impact are camping/roadtrip flings that take us out of our routine to amazing places. We got to visit Yosemite this Spring for the melt. That place is mind blowingly beautiful! Travel gives me a minute to see things fresh and affords me time to get outside my everyday schedule.