Untitled (Baby), 1999
Oil on canvas, 100 x 126 cm
The Bigger Victory
Mark Alexander (born England, 1966) has over the last ten years developed a unique body of figurative paintings in which he transforms found images by remaking them in series, often in monochrome colours. Alexander makes strange apparently familiar subjects, for example the portrait of a baby, to unsettle viewers and encourage them to look more closely at the work's painstakingly crafted surface, and be receptive to its effects. "The Bigger Victory" includes works from three of his most important series, all of which are exhibited for the first time.
The "Doctor Gachet" Series is based on the famous portrait painted by Van Gogh in 1890. This was during the last few months of the artist's life, and is a portrait of his physician whom he has painted with a melancholy and sad expression. 100 years later the work became the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Although considered one of Van Gogh's masterpieces it remains out of the public eye and has been rumoured to have either been cremated with its owner, Mr Saito, on his death in 1996, or resold to a private collector. By remaking the work in series, and in black monochrome, Alexander asks us to look closely at his own three "repaintings", and to re-appraise the aesthetic and monetary value we give to Van Gogh's "original". The most extreme example of Alexander's technique is "The Victory Series", 2003-2005.
In the four works in the exhibition, Alexander has taken an image of his face as a baby and surrounded it by forms that represent flames. The painting is a tondo, sharing its circular form with the Sun. This unusual juxtaposition of a baby's head, flames and the Sun is unsettling in yellow monochrome in two of the paintings, but particularly unexpected when realised in black monochrome in the other two works.
The "Baby" Paintings from 1996-1999 present five different compositions based on a photograph of Alexander taken when he was two years old. This apparently familiar snap-shot of a child is made unfamiliar, and somewhat sinister by its repetition.
Mark Alexander graduated in 1996 with a B.F.A from Oxford University. His work has since been included in the important group shows, "Painting on the Move" at the Kunsthalle Basel, 2002, and "I am a Camera" at the Saatchi gallery in 2001. His work is included in a number of important private collections in Europe and America.
A catalogue with texts by Malcolm Bull of the Ruskin School of Art, Morgan Falconer, art critic, and Ethan Wagner, art collector, will be published in April 2005.
Exhibition: 24 March - 20 April 2005
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10 am - 6 pm, Thu 10 am - 7 pm,
Sat 10 - 5 pm
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