Alexandra Smith’s works call upon the viewer’s gaze by magnifying human touch and expressing cropped carnal experiences. “…proximity to the skin, fingers, and sensuality of the body summons your gaze. While these works depict specific moments, they also serve as an offering” – Alexandra Smith
BIO: Alexandra Smith (b. 1995, Watertown, New York) holds a BFA from Alfred University with a concentration in painting. Smith was an artist-in-residence at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico in 2019. Previous exhibitions include “Unearthing Self-Indulgence,” Off White-Columns, New York, NY (2018); “Floor to Ceiling,” Off-White Columns, New York, NY (2019); “Not One Day,”,Essex Flowers, New York, NY (2020); “Significant Others,” Auxier Kline, New York, NY (2021); and “IRL,” Auxier Kline, New York, NY (2021). Her work has been featured in Art Maze Mag. Alexandra lives and works in Brooklyn.
Be A Body
January 29th – February 26th, 2022
373 Broadway, New York
CG: What period of art history do you find the most joy in, or can pull ideas from that feel the most satisfying to you?
AS: I draw inspiration from the baroque period. Light is integral to my work. George de la Torre, Carravagio, and others from that period capture light beautifully. The way light and shadow cast onto the surface of the skin – I’m on the hunt for that.
CG: During a trip to Launch F18, the gallery director, Sam Trioli, likened your painting techniques to the imprints of touch in Michaelangelo’s famous Pietà. How do you resonate with this connection?
AS: That’s great; I love that! When I think of that work, touch and intimacy come to mind – and those are themes I am also considering. Michelangelo and Bernini’s sculptures were sources of inspiration for works in this exhibition.
CG: What do you feel is the most unattractive part of the human body? Is it an area we see or is it invisible, and more importantly, is it easy to paint?
AS: Ugly minds and attitudes! Attraction is subjective, and most of the qualities that I regard as unappealing are within people’s character, which can easily be seen. As for attraction, hands capture my gaze. Hands are so expressive and emotive. There are multitudinal ways in which to convey emotions through hands. I’m not sure if I’ll ever tire from exploring them.
CG: Can you provide a step-by-step process as to how you would have created Thigh Bruise (2021) as an example? How do you mix, apply and layer your chosen materials?
AS: Thigh Bruise, along with my other work forms with a photo reference. I begin by digitally editing in Photoshop. These edits focus on revising the cropping, framing, hue, and saturation. When constructing a painting, I paint with thin layers. Through this repetition, they emerge through dry brush and glazing techniques.
CG: Can you tell me more about your working relationship with Be A Body’s co-exhibitor, Elena Redmond, and her work?
AS: Working with Elena has been lovely. Elena and I work with a similar subject – vulnerability, intimacy, and voyeurism. I related to her work. She has an excellent command of color. I’m grateful this exhibition introduced us to one another.
CG: Can you tell me more about your working relationship with Be A Body’s curatorial duo, Danielle Dewar and Marlee Katz of Tchotchke Gallery. How did it start?
AS: Danielle, Marlee, and I connected via Instagram. They made me feel seen – between virtual and in-person studio visits. We selected pieces that resonated with the exhibition’s theme. I admire Tchotchke Gallery’s curatorial vision and look forward to its future projects!
CG: Why do you choose to work with oil paint, and do you use any other mediums?
AS: At times, I am indecisive! I enjoy the ability to revise. Oils have been a good match for me in this respect. In some cases, I will use acrylics to build a base. Oil paint is such a seductive material, though… insert Amy Sillman’s essay, On Color.
CG: What female artists, painters, sculptors, poets, writers, singers, or political icons inspire your practice overall?
AS: I’m going to mention some male artists here
Music-wise I’ve been listening to Big Thief on repeat. Adrienne Lenker’s lyrics and vocals are chillingly powerful – as well as Phoebe Bridgers’ 2020 Punisher album. Both deal with death, love, and heartbreak. I look at Jenna Gribbon, Katarina Riesing, Doron Langberg, Jennifer Packer, and Aaron Gilbert‘s work. Ocean Vuong, Maggie Nelson, and David Sedaris are brilliant. I want to cry and laugh – they offer both extremes.
©2022 Alexandra Smith
Clare Gemima studied Fine Arts and graduated from Whitecliffe College of Arts in Design in 2017. She currently spends her time between making work in the studio and writing a weekly arts column in New York-based publication, EVGrieve.