One to Watch: Alex Jackson (USA)

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TwoAlex Jackson  is a painting student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison about to start his final year. The conceptual basis of his work is to deal with the history of black representation, particularly in the realm of historical and traditional portrait painting. The goal of his artwork is to create a “new normal,” in which the black characters simply become figures in space, as opposed to being representations for the African-American community at large.

Alex recently completed an artists residency at the prestigious Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art and Music. The six-week residency is for distinguished undergraduates across the globe, and boasts famous alumni, including Chuck Close, Eva Hesse, Vija Celmins, Sarah Sze, Robert Mangold, William Bailey, Brice Marden, and Josh Marsh.

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A glimpse inside Alex’s studio. 

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
My most recent body of work has been about the representation of the black body through the lens of art history, particularly the male body. I have always been very attracted to Western styles of portrait painting and history painting, a style and period in which the black body has ultimately been excluded as being a central or fundamental element to the European experience.

What I was after in this work was to create a new space for the black body, one in which the foundation and tableau of European imagery was dissected and taken over by gestural abstraction. This abstraction comes with the presence of the black body. The body is inventing its own environment through paint physicality, line, color, and shape. The fragmentation of the body into the space is a means to suggest a fluidity and symbiotic relationship that the body has with the abstraction, thus creating a space that the figure both appears to be comfortable in, as well as one in which they appear to belong in, as opposed to an untampered European space.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
You can’t please everyone, and you can’t solve every issue in one piece. You just have to accept the fact that everyone is not going to be a fan of your work and it’s important to remain true to your interests and beliefs. When you’re making art, get everyone’s voice out of your head.

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The artist in action. 

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I like to have music on for sure, but only when I’m making art. Depending on how invested in thinking I am at the time,  I’ll listen to artists’ talks, mainly Kerry James Marshall on repeat. If I need to step back and look at something or sit for a few hours staring and thinking, I need some silence.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Anything my Dad makes.

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Work in progress. 

Who are your favorite writers?
I’d have to say that one of my all time favorite writers is Frederick Douglass. Others include Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Hemingway, W.E.B Du Bois, J.J Abrams, Earl Sweatshirt, Nas, and I’ve recently begun to read a little James Baldwin, who is fantastic.

39 Comments

  1. Your work has the wow factor, Alex. LOVE it!!

    Reply
  2. flo jackson says:

    I’m very proud of you, keep up the excellent work, love ya & the work you’re doing,good example for your brother.

    Reply
  3. flo jackson says:

    I’m very proud of you, keep up the excellent work. Love ya and the work you’re doing,good example for your brother.

    Reply
  4. Kamaljit says:

    Your work is amazing!

    Reply
  5. Candice McRoberts says:

    Excellent work Alex!!! Very Proud of you. Make The Jackson’s proud!!

    Reply
  6. Lance says:

    Awesome, bro. You’ve come a long way from the 16 year old that walked into my shop asking to learn how to airbrush in exchange for cleaning. Proud of you, man. Stay hungry!!

    Reply
  7. Really impressive, I love your current work.

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  8. Nate First says:

    Good job man! Proud to see you’re doing what you love and are extremely good at it. Someday I’ll be able to say “I know that guy!” Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  9. Christian Barker says:

    Hey Alex, really strong work. I just bought two pieces, ‘dead’ and ‘Blues’. Can’t wait to get them on the wall.

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  10. Jason says:

    ТурДоска#1. Сайт бесплатных туристических объявлений.

    Reply
  11. Blue Ray says:

    Am just wondering what technique u use!?

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  12. Marina Nelson says:

    Great work – best of luck.

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  13. Excellent work, I can see that is coming from within. I wish you the best. The sky is the limit.

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  14. Royce R.B. says:

    I am a great admirer of your work – all the best for your future and will look forward to regular updates of your latest works. Cheers.

    Reply
  15. Netdost says:

    This is some good work, and also its easier to sell..

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  16. Ima says:

    Tremendous work. All my favourites are sold alas. Look forward to more.

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  17. Alex, really great art, very straight and clear messages. I’m looking forward to more. And very interesting interview, too.

    Reply
  18. Ayo Philip says:

    ” The conceptual basis of his work is to deal with the history of black representation, particularly in the realm of historical and traditional portrait painting.”

    Seven Star Concept!!!

    Keep it up, bro.

    Reply
  19. Congratulations Alex! Amazing work and concept! Really enjoyed reading about you and your work. Best, Vicky

    Reply
  20. BEAUTIFUL work dear.

    Reply
  21. Arthur says:

    Alex, my favorite “favorites” were sold but it was still a hard decision which is a testament to how powerful that your work really is. As it is very difficult to find art to reflect our culture in Switzerland, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to support you. …can’t wait to see what is in store for you.

    Reply
  22. Ebolia says:

    So here you are; fingers crossed !

    Reply
  23. claudia wit says:

    I like the paintings! Please if you fell like having an exibition in São Paulo- Brasil we could try to maneged. Take a look at “Sala do Olhar” in your facebook. This is my space…its a new alternative very well localized small gallery at Vila Madalena.
    Tks…

    Reply
  24. Victoria says:

    I surly wish you all the best success,well done you,as before you there were many and like them,after you there will be more…Truth be told.
    Real good stuff,unshakable,indeed.
    Thanks so much

    Reply
  25. i find the developing of your work very interesting and learned from your statement. I would like to recommend to you a wonderful book named
    ” Cutting a Figure”, fashioning Black Portraiture written by Richard J. Powell.
    keep up yhe good work!

    Reply
  26. We like the paintings!

    Reply

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