Friday, April 30, 2010

From Obama to Oh, Wow! Alexa Meade

If you happen to be in NYC between now and May 8, you won’t want to miss Alexa Meade’s exhibit at Postmaster’s Gallery. From her political experiences, former Obama campaign staffer, Meade, theorizes, that “experiences cannot always be interpreted at face value; seeing is not necessarily believing,”.

The twenty three year old Vassar grad expresses herself in a truly unique, thought-provoking manner with her reverse trompe l’oeil series. To create it, she developed a technique that makes 3-D space look flat, “blurring the lines between illusion and reality.”

Meade states, "I paint representational portraits directly on top of the people I am representing. The models are transformed into embodiments of the artist's interpretation of their essence. When captured on film, the living, breathing people underneath the paint disappear, overshadowed by the masks of themselves."

Dan Zak of the Washington Post writes, “Meade uses a brush. She paints skin on skin, lips on lips and eyebrows on eyebrows, and the insides of nostrils, using her own mixture of nontoxic paints and unspecified ingredients. Her subjects must sit still for multiple hours as she follows the natural contours of their faces, varying brushstroke and color to exhume their inner essence. When she's done, they appear banished to two-dimensionality, yet they also seem fuller, more dynamic. She then sets her subjects in an installation, or photographs them. There are no touch-ups or special effects beyond acrylic on flesh and the initial complacency of the observer.”

When I wrote to Alexa to ask her permission to write this entry about her, she referred me to the entry about her in Wikipedia, which she described as, "very accurate". I quote this entry about her:

Recent critical acclaim for Meade's work has been positive, with critics alluding to her innovations to the genre of portraiture and the ability of her work to speak to an international audience. Magdalena Sawon, owner of the Postmasters Gallery in New York, NY, recently said in reference to Meade's work, "A portrait is something that's been with us for 3,000 years--that's not an easy genre to move forward...This is a valid and very interesting contribution to the portrait genre." Christian Furr, a world renowned painter who selected Meade for an exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London, spoke of the international possibilities of her art. "She's going to create quite a stir in this country," Furr, a UK national, said. "People are fascinated by playing with viewpoints, and she's taking it one step further than trompe l'oeil. I was blown away by it."

(So was I!)

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Stacy Alexander