"Power line #25," 2019, acrylic and pencil on paper, 17 x 14 inches
Artist's Statement, Notes on "power lines paintings," 2016-2019:
The power line paintings are grounded, like most of my work, in observation. The colors are tuned to the evening hues of the Los Angeles skyline, over the Pacific with all that that implies: languid surfy sunsets and beach moments - the contemplation of the horizon (the abyss!) and its myriad associative possibilities: Los Angeles is a town of pyrotechnic success and failure; arcing triumph and spectacular burnout.
Looking west one night, and focusing on the colors of the waning light, I realized how gracefully the drooping power lines framed the scene. The lines’ presence was at once irritating in its disruption of a classically sublime vista with human presence and also compositionally very satisfying: the crisp lines hanging across the distant, blurry color-wash provided a visual schism that I liked. While gorgeous to behold, the wires also betoken civilization’s efforts to tap into, control and instrumentalize power. There’s a darker reading here too: the landscapes of the world are contentiously and perhaps irrevocably in flux as they are also systematically overrun with wires, pipelines and other devices to master and commodify them. Furthermore, the work explores a fundamental existential concern of light and darkness, doom and delight: how one defines the other. Without light, no darkness. Without death, no life. But these are not gloomy pictures since the splendor of the celestial color show is undeniably gratifying, inspiring and hopeful. This pictorial and philosophical dichotomy is relevant to the work.
In the paintings, the lines act dually: in formal terms, they are graphic counter-punches to the abstract color fields while in literal terms: as hanging wires across an urban nocturne.
I have been interested in the fusion of traditionally antithetical esthetic concerns for a long while now and making paintings that can function as both figurative and abstract compositions is at the core of this work. It allows me to move along experimenting with exuberant color and flirt with colorfield/minimal/light and space practices while making work grounded, at least in part, in the act of observation. The drawn power lines cinch these paintings effectively: in a narrative capacity, they force a depth of field, foreground/background read. In purely abstract terms they function strictly as sharpened foils to the soft-focus color-washes that dominate the pictures. And finally, in an allegorical capacity they speak to the current crisis of climate change and the human mark left upon nature.
Los Angeles, 2019
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"Marfa 1 (power line)," 2019, acrylic and pencil on paper 17 x 14 inches
"power line paintings," by Alex Weinstein
"Marfa 2, (power line)," 2019, acrylic and pencil on paper, 17 x 14 inches
"leave this town," 2016, oil and pencil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches
One of this issue's two "Featured Artists," Alex Weinstein's work is impressionistic, naturalistic, pastoral, punk, fluid, craggy, sometimes photorealistic, sometimes conceptual, and always gripping. His waves and lines, his brush strokes and hammer strikes are undeniably his and only his. He works on a grand scale while focusing on the minutia -- the particles of the whole; and he works within a more modest framework while taking the viewer's breath away. An artist of many mediums, two coasts, and one realized sense of purpose, Alex's conceptions and realities inspire a steady flow of "Holy shit!" moments.
"west LA fadeaway," 2019, oil and pencil on canvas, 32 x 32 inches
"Power line #32," 2019, acrylic and pencil on paper 17 x 14 inches