MICHEL ALEXIS
 

BIOGRAPHY

 
 
portrait-2-crctCRP.jpg

Born in Paris, I graduated in Science, then moved to a secluded hamlet in the Alps mountains where I converted a barn into a studio. I stayed there for 8 years, also traveling extensively to developing countries.

I started modeling slabs of plaster, engraved with imaginary signs, a work induced by ruins of early civilizations I had crossed. Much closer to my studio, the Art Brut Museum in Lausanne, would also stir a lasting interest. Ancient glyphs, enigmatic signs of disabled artists compelled me in a similar way, by blending a sense of beauty and mystery.

I subsequently moved to California to join part of my family. There I started blowing up on large canvases my early experiments on plaster, using heavy acrylic paste. In 1992 I moved to New York and explored more literary concepts, starting with a series based on Gertrude Stein. This body of work led favorably to the Pollock-Krasner award (1994) and critical notice (New York Times,1995). Then came "Alphabets" (Artnews, 2002), and "Subtracted Word" (Art in America, 2004). In 2003 I received the Elizabeth Foundation award for a series based on imaginary alphabets.

Exhibitions in public venues include: Los Angeles County Museum of Art , the Joslyn Center of the Arts , Torrance, CA (solo show), Musee Dauphinois (Grenoble, France), Artist Space, New York, Drawing Center, NY, Espace Malraux, Maison de la Culture, Chambery, France (solo show), Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY, Denver University (solo show), Dortmunder Kunstverein, Germany, Irvine Fine Arts Center, CA, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO.

 
 
 

RESUME


 

Born in Paris,
1960, self-taught

Awards & Grants

2003
Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts

1994
Pollock-Krasner Foundation

1992
Ministere de la Culture, France

2 Rhizome 73 detail

2 Rhizome 73 detail

Solo Exhibitions

2019
Tree Art Museum, Beijing, China, “Rhizomes”, curated by Corinne David,
Oct 15-Nov 16

2015
Boyd Satellite Gallery, New Orleans, LA, "Failings of Spring"

2014
Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "Lost and Found" 

2012
Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris, "Leda et le signe

2011
 Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "The Body of the Text"

2009
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA, "Alphabets"

2008
Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "Syllabary"

2006
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Epigrams"

Isabelle Gounod Galerie, Paris, France, "Stolen Diaries"

 
Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "Epigrams"

2005
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Synesthesia"

 Heriard - Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA, "Epigrams"

2003
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Subtracted Word"

2002
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Alphabets"

2001
 Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, “Epigrams”

 Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA, "Alphabets"

1999
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA, "Epigrams"

Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "Hide-Seek"

1997
University of Denver, Denver, CO, "Stein's Diary 2"

Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York, NY, "The Birthday Book"

Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "New works"

1995
Dahn Gallery, New York, NY, "Stein's Diary 1"

Ruth Bachofner, Santa Monica, CA, "New works"

1993
Espace Malraux, Maison de la Culture, Chambery, France, "Fragments"

1990
 Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "Frail Monument", (catalogue)

1988
Michael Ivey Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, "White path, Blue path"

1987
Michael Ivey Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, "Fragments"

1986
Joslyn Center of the Arts, Torrance, CA, "Palimpsests"

 Double Rocking G Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, "Chicken in the Yard"

1985
Double Rocking G Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, "Palimpsests"

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019
Chateau du Champ-Renard, Blace, France, July 2-7

2014
FIAC (OFF)ICIELLE Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris

Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Finn, again" 

Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine, Selections from International Collage Center 

2013
Katonah Museum of Art, NY, curator Pavel Zoubok

2012
The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO, Remixed Metaphors, catalog

Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, Rock-Paper-Scissors",
(Alexis, Doug and Mike Starn, Tracey Emin, Larry Zox, Oakes twins)

2011
DRAWING NOW 2011, Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris, France

Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, " Spectrum"

Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell University, Lewisburg PA, Collage is dead..

2010

SLICK 2010, Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris, France

Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Nexus"

2009
Isabelle Gounod Galerie, Paris, France, "Traces"

Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, "White"

2008
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Confluence"

Elins Eagle-Smith Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2006
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Solstice" 

2005
Holland Tunnel Gallery, Paros, Greece, "Labyrinth"

2004
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Narrative Abstraction"

2003
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Coda" 

Werner Bommer Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

TGN Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, "Ex-Votos", curator Trong Gia Nguyen

2002
Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York, NY

Robert McClain Gallery., Houston, TX

Espacio L. Domus, Madrid, Spain, curator Elga Wimmer

2001
Elga Wimmer Gallery, , New York, NY, "Project 1" ( M.Alexis, Sam Samore, Fabrice Hybert, Carolee Schneeman, Bridget Smith )

2000
Stephen Haller Gallery, New York, NY, "Surface Tension"

1999
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, "Unlocking the Grid", ( M. Alexis, Sean Scully, J. Snyder, J. Torres-Garcia )

1998
Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York, NY

1997
Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, New York, NY, "World View"

1996
Irvine Fine Arts Center, Irvine, CA, "Word, Image, Gesture"

1995
Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany, "The Outside Inside Gertrude Stein" 

1993
Drawing Center, New York, NY, "The Return of the Cadavres Exquis" 

The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY, "Artists in the Marketplace" (catalog)

Dannenberg Gallery, New York, NY, "Patterns"

1992
Gallery 1102, "Visions of Nocturnes", New York, NY

Artists Space, "The Rope Show", New York, NY

1991
Musee Dauphinois, Grenoble, France (catalog)

1990
Salon de Montrouge,Montrouge, France

1988
Michael Walls Gallery, New York, NY

1985
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, "Quintet Quintessence"

Selected Collections

Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany
Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
International Collage Center, New York, NY
Bank of California, Beverly Hills, CA
MGM , Las Vegas, NV
New World Pictures, Los Angeles, CA
Ritz Carlton, Seoul, Korea
Peninsula hotel, Paris  
News Corporation Inc., New York, NY
Toyota, Los Angeles, CA
Hoggard Wagner Collection, New York, NY
Golinelli Collection, Bologna, Italy

Epigram 21.jpg

 

 
 

STATEMENT

 

 
 
 

Rhizome Series

In botany, a rhizome is a thick underground stem of plants whose buds develop new roots and shoots, such as ginger, hops or lotus.

The rhizome is also an “image of thought” which emphasizes fluidity and multiplicity. The movement of the rhizome resists organisation, instead favoring a nomadic system of growth and propagation.

For me the idea of the rhizome translates visually as a free association of signs, words, color, symbols, therefore, as an image of the unconscious.

Not unlike automatic writing, my paintings start off with an almost blind process : I trace thin cuts with an engraving tool through a thick build-up of canvas, paper and glue; then liquid color will run through the creases and tears and spread into unexpected blots and shapes.

A root is always a discovery. We dream it more than we see it”
—G. Bachelard

 

 

 

Epigram Series

An epigram is a short poem; it comes from a greek word meaning “to inscribe”and would usually be carved on statues, but was also an early form of graffiti on Roman walls.

My attempt is to create visual poetry on the canvas; I use signs, symbols, blots, carving, erasure, and imaginary alphabets.

In short, all things that are in excess of the legible word in the act of writing, and which have all but disappeared in the digital age.

On the surface of the canvas, ruled like a notebook, I build a thick layer of gesso and paper. Then I trace lines into it with an engraving tool, gliding atop or tearing into it .

My first impulse is to make marks; then color will run into the folds, creases and tears, while leaving transparent veils in between.

The semantic field becomes a ploughed field, with its furrows, puddles, dark rocks and streaks of luminous meadows.

My studio is facing the East River, in the industrial setting of the Brooklyn Navy Yard; from my window I can see huge cranes moving slowly, and tracing, like semaphores, a giant and graceful alphabet of signs against the sky.

Stein’s Diary Series

In this former series of paintings (1995), I used excerpts from a text by Gertrude Stein (The Birthday Book) and placed them into an imaginary diary, where next to nothing would happen.

Texts, markings, images respond to a world of confinement, anguish, within a sour sense of the absurd.

 

Basic Structure

The basic structure of my paintings is derived from a childhood ritual.
Alone, lying down, I would stare for a long time at my bedroom ceiling, a blank square ornamented by an intricate frieze.
There, I would effortlessly reconcile the minimal and Baroque elements of the decor and combine them into imaginary, enigmatic shapes, suspended between the lure of the void and the exuberant profusion of life.

French translation:

La structure de base de mes peintures me vient d’un rituel d’enfance.
Seul, allongé, je contemplais longuement le plafond de ma chambre, un carré blanc orné d’une frise.
Sans effort, je réconciliais les éléments antagonistes de ce décor baroque et minimal pour en faire surgir des formes nouvelles, énigmatiques, suspendues entre le néant et le foisonnement de la vie.

 
 

PROCESS

PROCESS   On the surface of the canvas, ruled like a giant notebook, I build up thin layers of gesso, paint and paper. Then I trace imaginary signs with an engraving tool which cuts through the layers. After that I will cover the dry, scorched surface with oil glazes which will bury or highlight parts of it.  “The surface is not that of literature” writes    Barry Schwabsky    ,  “but is thick with the aroma of writing. Alexis’s graphic line twists and spirals fitfully through this writerly atmosphere like a moth around a flame, sometimes gliding atop the surface but just a often gouging into it to raise scarlike passages-traces of a strangely delicate violence”  The painted ground will at places appear through the layers; also the transparency and sheen of the surface will play against the furrowed lines.  “In Alexis's paintings, an occasional streak of light will break through the veils of muted color like the icy fingers of real experience tearing aside the curtains of memory” notes      Eleanor Heartney   .
 

On the surface of the canvas, ruled like a giant notebook, I build up thin layers of gesso, paint and paper. Then I trace imaginary signs with an engraving tool which cuts through the layers. After that I will cover the dry, scorched surface with oil glazes which will bury or highlight parts of it.

“The surface is not that of literature” writes Barry Schwabsky, “but is thick with the aroma of writing. Alexis’s graphic line twists and spirals fitfully through this writerly atmosphere like a moth around a flame, sometimes gliding atop the surface but just a often gouging into it to raise scar-like passages—traces of a strangely delicate violence”

The painted ground will at places appear through the layers; also the transparency and sheen of the surface will play against the furrowed lines.

“In Alexis's paintings, an occasional streak of light will break through the veils of muted color like the icy fingers of real experience tearing aside the curtains of memory” notes Eleanor Heartney.