Fri January 17 - Sat February 15, 2020

John Alexander: Landscape and Memory & Mark di Suvero: Sculpture

John Alexander: Landscape and Memory
John Alexander's most recent body of work presents a detailed collection of landscapes, botanicals, sea life, and animals - each subject an emblem of the artist's own mind and memory. Alexander grew up between the bayous and the wooded wilderness of East Texas, enjoying camping and fishing trips within the lush, diverse landscape that would ultimately become so influential to him. Moreover, Alexander's understanding and appreciation for the natural world was fortified by his father's environmentalism. For Alexander, developing an environmental acuity, especially for his native Texas, was familial. Today, the artist creates work in reference to the nature-based consciousness he developed in his youth.

The introspective nature of Alexander's work is revealed through the artist's keen observations of his surrounding environment and the vivid way in which he paints it. Employing bold, painterly strokes, Alexander maintains an acute sensibility of his subject matter - whether it be the detailed rendering of the spiny lobster, an expressive portrayal of grackles and ibises perched in branches, or more expansive, floating florals. The artist also injects elements of whimsy; the playful monkeys he paints peer out of their canvases to almost directly engage the viewer. And thus each work is imbued with an authentic, raggedly pristine, emotional sense of the earth we all inhabit. In this way, Alexander creates scenes that are deeply personal, yet also shared...nostalgic yet ongoing...exotic yet familiar...of the world yet otherworldly. Saturating his landscapes with humor, sentimentality, and veneration, Alexander reveals as much about himself as he does about nature.

John Alexander: Landscape and Memory is comprised of twelve paintings and six drawings, work that comes together in reverence for the formal tradition of landscape painting. Paying homage to an Impressionist Master, Claude Monet, Alexander paints dreamy hollyhocks. Invoking the more recent Hudson River School, Alexander carefully creates bucolic scenes of both reality and idealization. Perhaps most unexpectedly, Alexander also nods to the Abstract Expressionists, applying thick strokes of paint in a gestural, emotional meditation. In turn, Alexander's work pays tribute to the long and varied legacy of landscape painting before him while simultaneously remaining true to his own, very personal, connection to nature. Through the amalgamation of art historical context, environmental conservation, and the integration of a more intimate narrative, Alexander produces a body of work that is raw, compelling, and perhaps above all else, natural.

Mark di Suvero: Sculpture
The current exhibition presents an impressive breadth of di Suvero's career, including some of the artist's most quintessential, small and medium-scale steel structures. Mark di Suvero is primarily recognized for his monumental, outdoor sculptures; work that impresses not only due to their magnitude, but also for their complex fusion of geometric engineering with organic forms. Yet no matter the scale, all of di Suvero's sculptures captivate by directly engaging the viewer. Perhaps this engagement is actually heightened when the artist decreases his scale, as viewer interaction becomes increasingly visceral when confronted with less mass yet equivalent dynamism. Rather than function as maquettes, di Suvero's smaller-scale sculptures are fully realized works that offer an intimate entry into his oeuvre.

Employing a skilled welding technique, di Suvero composes his sculptures of steel, scrap metal, and other found objects. Oftentimes his work includes components that move or appear to hang in precarious balance. Though feats of masterful engineering, di Suvero also works in the tradition of the Abstract Expressionist movement as he creates forms that are rhythmic, gestural, and energetic. Thus, di Suvero maintains geometric vitality while also revealing something more spontaneous and instinctive in his work.

Spanning five decades of the artist's career, the work comprising Mark di Suvero: Sculpture offers unique insight into the evolution of di Suvero's artistic practice. Among the early works in the exhibition are Untitled (1975) and Mayakovsky (1976), both exquisite examples of di Suvero's reconciliation between daring construction and expressive, organic forms. Advancing to the present day, di Suvero creates work he calls 'puzzle pieces,' - intricate structures composed of many different individual parts which have the ability to construct several varying configurations within themselves. Most recently, the artist preserves the quintessential properties of his early works whilst demonstrating further complexity and play in additional mediums.

Image credits:

First Image - John Alexander, The Temptation, 2019, oil on canvas, 70 x 60 inches
Second Image - Mark du Suvero, Occam's Razor, 2014, steel, 40 1/4 x 23 1/8 x 19 1/2 inches
John Alexander: Landscape and Memory John Alexander's most recent body of work presents a detailed collection of landscapes, botanicals, sea life, and animals - each subject an emblem of the artist's own mind and memory. Alexander grew up between the bayous and the wooded wilder...
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Gallery Opening, Art

  • Fri Jan 17 (10am - 6pm)
  • Sat Jan 18 (11am - 5pm)
  • Mon Jan 20 (10am - 6pm)
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Berggruen Gallery 26 Upcoming Events
10 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105


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