First Friday After-Hours @ Rontoms: Alex DeSpain

“Summer Storms” Introducing Alex DeSpain

Rontoms, 600 E. Burnside
Opening Reception May 6, 9:00pm-12:00am
May 6-July 5, 2011

Alex De Spain has a very short long story. From the plains of Oklahoma, that long stretch of wheat-colored canvas that straddles middle America, and the lonely land of Texas, he comes to Portland on the heels of one too many personal tornadoes.  Having spun around in a pallet thunder cloud grays, aging wooden browns, and the pale yellows of inaudible screams, his introduction to the verdant North West inspired discovery of another sort.  By pouring colorful raindrops on his work, he has turned dust into rich soil.  In his most recent series, he calls forth the colors of summer, the cloyingly sweet smell of rose gardens in full-bloom, and organizes his personal story into lessons of joy.  “Summer Storms” begins with a look at Alex’s black & white portraits where cross-hatched hairs like threads of grain assume a third dimension, and ends under the hard-edges of his SHAPES series where we are left to float amid fluid forms of galactic neon-discovery.  This show, at once turbulent and refreshingly warm, offers a look at the biographical portfolio of this talented emerging artist.

Artist Statement:

“When Alex creates work, he clears his head of all thoughts and allows himself to tap into his subconscious. From there, he begins with a line or a color and and frees his hand to interpret his stream of consciousness.  He will build on a piece until it looks exactly the way he wants it to.  The end result is art that connects to DeSpain to his piece in a way that he could not have anticipated before he actually began the work. This process reflects his deep interest in exploring new ways of discovering the depth of his imagination rather than pursuing a preconceived notion.

“DeSpain likes to use a variety of media, even those he does not know, as a part of his relationship with an unfamiliar process. It is a way for him to maintain interest in his work as well as push him out of a comfort zone. Some of his favorite mediums are watercolor, gouache, ink, and more recently- acrylic aerosol paint.  He likes to switch out which mediums he uses for a series, but finds himself always going back to a medium he has used before to discover something new about it.

“More recently, DeSpain has been exploring scale with his series “Shapes”. His interest in working with unfamiliar mediums is strongly exhibited with this body of work. He began this series in the winter months while he was missing the bright colors and sunny weather of the summer time. By creating “Shapes”, he was able to preserve the luminous colors all year long, as a reminder of how magical the Portland summer really is.”

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