In his most recent book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist references a poem by William Blake (‘The Everlasting Gospel’, d, lines 103–6):
This Life’s dim Windows of the Soul
Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
And leads you to Believe a Lie
When you see with, not thro’, the Eye.
McGilchrist explains: “We need to see through the eye, through the image, past the surface: there is a fatal tendency for the eye to replace the depth of reality – a depth which implies the vitality, the corporeality and the empathic resonance of the world – with a planar re-presentation, that is, a picture. In doing so, the sublime becomes merely the picturesque.”
Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery is proud to open its fall 2020 season with a show of Alex Dodge’s newest paintings. Drawn using animation and design programs and executed in paint with Dodge’s advanced stenciling techniques, these works are largely figurative, though not necessarily human. Some of his subjects resemble cats, puppets, topiary, or uncanny approximations of recognizable animals. Dodge thinks of the 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.
In addition to what has become Dodge’s signature application of oil paint through stencils, each of these new paintings has a dark blue-to-white gradient ground. This fade is inspired by a Japanese technique called “Bokashi”, which Dodge learned from traditional Ukiyo-e masters at the Adachi Hanga workshop while living in Japan. Historically in woodblock prints, this fade allowed for a deliberate depth to permeate the image, yet the darkness is ambiguous enough to offer the figures a presence, as though spotlit on stage. Dodge aims to integrate a balance between the tactility of the stencil-painted surface and the open-ended experience of a shared world with these figures.
The artist dedicates this exhibition in the memory of Takuya Matsuda (1978-2020) beloved friend and elegant dirtbag.