Friday, October 7, 2011

David Alexander - where art and social consciousness meet.

I recently had the pleasure of looking over a selection of David Alexander's paintings. It seemed somehow appropriate that David should follow Greg Freedman on The Portrait, for in some respects the works of both artists provide social comments on life.

David's paintings are soul searching.  They are a social examination of the effects of the oil industry on human life and on our earth.

It is one thing for me to critique landscape paintings.  But my experience and observations of art fail me when I look at David's social commentary.  But, that being said, there is a common denominator which runs through the selection of works David has provided.

For one thing, the pictures are direct, simple and uncluttered.  David cuts to the chase. His works take us from the citadel of nature, where trees (an ancient life symbol), rise above  and look over a great pit in the earth where we presume oil is extracted.

David takes us on a journey from the oil pit to the Exxon Valdez. The ship is a black and red, obese, bulk carrier of unrefined oil. The colouring is significant for in psychological terms, black and red are colours of violence.

He takes us from there to what appears to be a black, tower, garden ornament  which is topped off with a globe. There is a wrenching contradiction between its ornamental design and  its purpose.  David calls this 'The Apotheosis of Oil'.  There can be no  mistake that it is  shaped like a black oil tower, capped off with a glass light globe.  The title Apotheosis tells us that David sees that society has elevated oil to a divine level.  

When I look at these works, I find myself in the end look at his Titan which has a face of a child. David sums it up when he says: "I wanted to show the Titan as an enigmatic symbol that was also a paradox, a primeval force of nature wearing a youthful mask."

David expresses it well, for the paradox is that we are dependent upon the oil industry  While oil  gives us fuel to drive our cars and provide us with the lifestyle we know, it also takes from the earth we depend upon for life itself.. 

Well done David. Where would we be without artists with a social conscience to interpret the lives we live.

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