Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Art is Where the Home Is

“I’m one of those people who loves driving in L.A.
I love listening to the radio and looking out the window.
Alex Israel

Los Angeles is Alex Israel’s muse and except for the three and a half years he spent on America’s east coast it has been the 33 year old’s home.

As he told Artsy’s Alexxa Gotthardt “I’ve lived in L.A. always, minus three years at Yale and the six-month try I gave New York City… I’ll never forget those long, gray, bitterly cold winters in New Haven. The work I made there, as an undergraduate, was all about my longing for the magic of L.A. I was homesick.”

Homesick for the magic of business as art and art as business which in the best Warholian tradition sees the artist as brand ambassador, a role that sits as comfortably on Israel’s shoulders as it does on his beloved city of angels.

“Beyond its magical regionalism, for me, Los Angeles is America. Los Angeles is the place where the American Dream comes to life. We witness this on television, season after season. The American Dream is a powerful and moving thing. So much of the imagery that illustrates this dream is pure L.A. cliché. These clichés carry so much symbolic weight and meaning; they activate people's imaginations and inspire them to find a better way, and a better life,” he explained to the Interview Magazine. 

From his sun glasses company Freeway Eyewear that spawned his video series Rough Wind to the 33 “video portraits of LA icons” in his As It LAys project, Israel has, as paid up member of the Facebook generation, used the internet for their distribution.

As he said in the video for his exhibition at Paris’ Almine Rech Gallery earlier this year “Rough Winds is a project I worked on for a long time when I was in school and for me it was really a way of creating a landscape of Los Angeles. I wanted it to be something that was easily accessible so I decided to make this landscape in the form of a web series… If you notice in Rough Winds a lot of the characters are wearing sun glasses and Rough Winds functions as a vehicle for product placement for the sun glasses I developed as a brand… This is a project that is not an art work, it’s just a part of my practice that’s meant to exist as a brand.”

 About As It LAys he added “This was a project that I did, like Rough Winds, for the internet. I was able to speak with some of the people, that inspired me and have inspired many people, who live in LA and have accomplished things that have helped create the fabric of that city, of my city,” he said.

For his non internet work, Israel works closely with the Scenic Art department on the Warner Bros. Studio backlot.

Like for his ongoing sculptural project “properties” about which he says “I like to rent Hollywood props or cinema props that have appeared in movies or television and cast them as performers in my exhibitions. The idea is that they perform the role of a sculpture and at the end of the exhibition they return to the prop house I rented them from.”

And then there are his self-portraits.

“This is a project that came out of As It LAys,” he explained. “When working on As It LAys I designed a logo for the project using my profile… and in the opening credits for As It LAys I would turn into the logo… to me it became a template, a way to experiment with different colors and effects… and to think about myself as a logo and as a context for my work.”

His current exhibition Sightings: Alex Israel is on show at Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center until the 31st of January next year. 

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