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Alex Dodge
Synthetic/Mystical

Throughout the past nearly 20 years, Alex Dodge has made work that seeks to examine the interaction of people and technology. From his earliest paintings of empty swimming pools, executed from computer-drafted renderings and models of water, Dodge has combined traditions and techniques of painting with contemporary digital tools for 3D-modeling and animation.

For his newest work, the artist has taken his interest in fabric, patterning, and optics to a new level, employing apparel-design programs in concert with computer-aided drafting to stitch together garments, quilts, sneakers and hats and apply them to various figures.

Dodge thinks of these figures as representing two realms, “The Synthetic” and “The Mystical”. Those that are Synthetic – closer to “real” – are more reflective of human behavior and emotion, while those that are Mystical allude to characters who employ magic, or have the power to use mysterious tools. These characters speak to our time, where humanity now looks to technology to solve problems, build personal relationships, or transfer information, while many people still experience a yearning for something authentic or meaningful.

Dodge is fascinated by the way we construct and manipulate digital data, and by the power of that data to then manipulate our perceptions. In making his work he moves back and forth between sophisticated software systems and computer-assisted laser cutters, on the one hand, and the gloppy materiality of paint on the other.

— Kate McQuillen, Art in Print
DESIGNING AN IMAGE

Roger, Sitting in Process

To create the complex stencils for the images used in his paintings, Dodge uses a multitude of digital methods and applications. Using a range of animation, 3D modeling, and virtual garment design programs, each painting goes through several stages of development. The resulting forms are exported into the physical world via laser-cutter stencils. Dodge uses these new technologies (even creating some custom programs) as a set of tools to facilitate his paintings rather than as an end unto themselves.

The slideshow below contains images of some of the steps Dodge took in generating “Roger Sitting”, 2020

The seamless, textureless expanses contrast with the artist’s hallmark raised patterns of stenciled oil paint (imagine laser-cut fondant), lending his works a strange heft.

— Johanna Fateman, The New Yorker September 28, 2020

Kyax Playing, 2020

oil and acrylic on polyester

32 × 24 inches (81.28 × 60.96 cm)

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Dodge’s newest paintings is the faded background present in each work. Having spent time working with a Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock printer over the past year, Dodge adapts the traditional technique of printing gradated color (Bokashi) to create an ambiguous but theatrical space for his figures. For these paintings, Dodge paints with an airbrush instead of printing, but stencils allow him to create evocative shadows under each form. The result is a description of a psychological space more than a locating environment.

 

UKIYO-E PRINT FROM ADACHI WORKSHOP

Come Walk with Me Into the Night, 2020

Ukiyo-e Woodcut print on Echizen kizuki hosho washi paper (produced by living national treasure Ichibei Iwano)
10 ¼ × 15 ⅛ inches (26.04 × 38.42 cm)
Edition of 80 plus XV AP

In the book Japanese Wood Block Printing, Rebecca Salter writes:

“The most well-known printing effect in Japanese woodblock is colour gradation (bokashi) made famous in the prints of Hokusai and Hiroshige using imported Prussian blue. The range from light to dark, pale to deep gives a wonderfully stylised suggestion of sky or water and a tremendous feeling for space.”

pictured: Hokusai, The Black Fuji

While living and working in Japan in 2019 and 2020, Dodge worked with renowned Ukiyo-e print shop Adachi in Tokyo.

Along with the master block carvers and printers of the workshop, Dodge developed his imagery specifically for the traditional medium.

Above are the three blocks that have been inked for printing. Each block is carved by hand from cherry wood with meticulous care.

Printing is also done by hand using traditional tools, without a press, creating a delicate and airy watercolor feel to the work.

This print is the first in a series of three to be published by Adachi Woodcuts with Dodge. A limited number of prints are available through Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery. Follow the link above, or contact the gallery.

PAINTINGS ON PAPER

Miuccia Fan Fiction

These new works on paper titled Miuccia Fan Fiction, are made with a similar process to the paintings in Dodge’s show. The artist creates the drawings using digital animation programs to render his imagery. From these renderings, he creates stencils through which he pushes the oil paint with a pallet knife, creating a textured and layered dimensionality. Each piece also incorporates the Bokashi-inspired airbrush gradient.

Miuccia Fan Fiction (Lone Wolf), 2020
oil and acrylic on paper
22 × 30 inches (55.88 × 76.20 cm)

Miuccia Fan Fiction (Love Sick), 2020
oil and acrylic on paper
22 × 30 inches (55.88 × 76.20 cm)

Miuccia Fan Fiction (Song Bird), 2020
oil and acrylic on paper
22 × 30 inches (55.88 × 76.20 cm)

EXHIBITION CATALOG

Alex Dodge, 2020

The gallery has published a hardcover, full color exhibition catalog on the occasion of Dodge’s show. Copies are available through the website by clicking below.

36 pages, full color, hardcover.

Purchase Book

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