Interview: Alex Angel

Entrañas De Amor by Alex Angel

1. Can you introduce yourself? Tell us where you are from, what school you went to, and where you are currently at!

My name is Alex Angel, I was born in Pomona California, and Raised in Honolulu Hawaii. I went to Kapiolani Community College in Hawaii and studied drawing, painting, a little bit of digital animation, and ultimately received an associate’s degree in liberal arts. My next school was the School of Visual Arts (SVA), NYC where I studied Design and Motion Graphics, I graduated this May 2020 during quarantine with a B.F.A in Design. Currently, I have returned to SVA for an M.F.A in Fine arts (Class of 2022).

Alzado Sobre Una Prisión De Colores Imposibles by Alex Angel

2. Is your work more in line with surrealism or symbolism? Are they concerned with a dream-like subconscious narrative or a poetic description of the world and your personal experiences?

I think my work has all of the elements you mentioned, plus a spiritual element. My work has been a continuing process of understanding myself, and my process. Overall, my practice is a meditative journey within inner interdimensional labyrinths. While walking, floating, or drifting within them, I am confronted with infinite forms of reality that arise to assist me on my journey. I recreate these visions and dreams on paper, canvas, and animated compositions. Through a process of psychological excavation, mining, and compartmentalization, I create foundations for future expeditions that go further and deeper.

Black Lives Matter by Alex Angel

3. Is your work political in any way? What message do you try to convey with the symbols of the American eagle, the flag, or the image of New York City? What is the vision that you have for America in the 21st century?

Overall I do not think my work is generally political, but I have touched on certain topics concerning democracy, patriotism, and the structure of Governing institutions. Recently I made 2 works in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These works were dedications to them and they were made as prayers for justice.

With the American eagle, I try to convey a sense of patriotism, love of country, freedom, and American values that many Americans are proud of and base their lives values and morals on. It represents a symbol to unite all Americans as one people despite their background and beliefs. The spiritual and cultural significance of the eagle is also very interesting to me.

With the American flag, I also wish to convey the message of patriotism and pride in being American. A symbol that should unite Americans as one people in unity and freedom. At the same time, I also seek to communicate the unquestioning loyalty some Americans have for these symbols, despite the institutions in charge of our republic not always working for their/our interests. Where the primary interest is monetary gain, world power, and control.

The message of New York City is that it is a land of opportunity, where somewhere hidden within its vastly intricate and complicated industrial/technological, psychological, spiritual, social, multicultural, matrix, one can find a portal of light where dreams come true.

My vision for America in the 21st century is that every city would have skyscrapers with indoor climate controlled self-sustained organic, vegetable, and produce growing facilities. Farmers across the nation incorporate these self-sustained super vertical growing buildings which can use up to 80% less water than regular farming methods. In every city and across the country, all forms of green-sustainable energy methods are used. Methods such as wind, wave, solar, geothermal, etc. Bullet trains/hyperloops are fully developed across the country ending Corporate Airline monopoly, subterranean tunnels for E-Vehicles (like the ones Elon Musk is developing with his Boring Company), are should be in place, and traffic would be massively reduced. Mass planting of trees/gardens wherever possible in cities to reduce heat islands and to create a visually stimulating coexistence of Humans and Nature. Greater prison reforms to rehabilitate inmates with programs that help them succeed in life and not fall into a never-ending cycle of incarceration. Banning of all single-use packaging products, biodegradable packaging materials to be mandatory nationwide. Programs that help and teach older or current generations to find new trades in a world where past occupations are becoming obsolete or replaced by new technologies. Greater funding and emphasis on the arts in the education system.

Radiación Electromagnética by Alex Angel

4. What were your first encounters with art as a child or a young person? Do the artistic concerns of your childhood still relate to your current art?

My first encounters may have been seeing the Murals in Los Angeles in the early nineties, or comic books. I remember art was very much valued in my community in southern California, in the early nineties. I remember me and my siblings would make art for fun since, at the time, there was no internet or smartphones/Ipads. We would compete with each other to see who could make the better drawing or painting etc. Some of the nightmares and visions I had as a child still inform my current art.

Frecuencia de leones by Alex Angel

5. What are some of the things that you would like to accomplish with programmed video art that you couldn’t do with traditional drawing or painting? What are some of the pros and cons of programming work with moving images or interactive elements? Do you think your works such as “The Woman and the Dragon” provide a glimpse into the future of art-making in the 21st century?

With video art, I explore the idea of animating a painting or a drawing. I think it could be a way to better show the visions of my mind through the added dimensions of time and sound. I would like to learn as much as I can about video art, explore it, and make it a relevant part of my practice.

The cons are the difficult learning curves and the price for the hardware. You sometimes need a lot of computing power and it can get expensive. Also, it can be very time-consuming. The pros are that Youtube offers hundreds of free tutorials and courses. I think it is possible that learning to use these programs and learning how to build these machines can open up new worlds in the mind of an artist (at least for me it did).

I think it is possible that “The Woman and the Dragon” could be a glimpse into the future of art-making in the 21st century. One of my goals in “The Woman and the Dragon” was to combine traditional fine art mediums like drawing, painting, video footage, and photography, with digital programs like After Effects, Photoshop, etc.

6. What are some of the Latin American influences in your art? How do you see the influences differentiating your color concerns, use of symbols, and design of patterns?

I think the strongest influence my Latin American roots have in my art is my love of extreme detail. A visit to the Aztec ruins in Mexico City and the pyramids of Teotihuacan made me fall in love with extreme detail after seeing these massive structures containing detail to the last individual pebble. I believe it is common for many artists with Mexican roots like myself to have a color palette that is intense and vibrant. Little towns in Mexico will have houses painted in fluorescent greens, blues, and even pinks. I see myself being naturally drawn to these colors. The same with my use of patterns, symbols, and design. It’s not always the case with everyone though.

Enfermedad Por Radiación by Alex Angel

7. How did COVID impact your art-making and networking as an artist? Did it force you to find new ways to make art and network with people in the art world?

Definitely found myself on the internet, or social media platforms a lot more observing virtual live streams, gallery openings, and articles. I actually found myself making less digital work and working on more handmade work on canvas. I think the sudden oversaturation of being online, isolation, and quarantine caused me to want to spend more time exploring the physical world and working with physical mediums such as oil and acrylic on canvas.

Jaguar Dorado by Alex Angel

8. Is your work concerned with spirituality and pseudo-scientific beliefs about the cosmos?

I definitely think about those things and enjoy listening to podcasts and watching videos about those subjects. Most of the time, I am trying to find logical connections that are mathematically and scientifically accurate in relation to the subjects mentioned. I still have not been able to clearly find a connection though and I am certain it is because it would require an actual understanding of advanced scientific and mathematical knowledge of which I am far from. So overall I think my work leans more towards the spiritual.

9. As an MFA candidate, what is your concept of a masterpiece? What makes a work a masterpiece? Is it the unique style, a strong vision, rigorous techniques, or all of these things?

As of now, I believe my concept of a masterpiece is most likely Michelangelo's statue of David or Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The technique, vision, intensity, commitment, belief, love, and determination is what made these works masterpieces in my opinion. The story of how they came to be is also amazing within themselves.

Cielo by Alex Angel

10. Cielo is your strongest work so far, in my view. I feel that it is a masterpiece and a great work of art because the colors are on point, forming a kind of harmonious and discordant, grand symphony. The level of detail is incredible and achieved with a sense of ease. Can you tell us more about this work?

This work was my second work to incorporate color, my previous works in this series were purely black and white. It took me almost exactly one year to make and it is the largest work I have made (58X38 inches), currently working on going much bigger. During the time I was making this work, I went on my first trip to Spain, the work in el Prado, the Reina Sofia, Salvador Dali's House in Figueras, and some galleries and museums in Barcelona really gave me intense inspiration and drive to put as much passion into this work as possible. The work is a meditation on heaven interpreted in a personal abstracted language. It includes elements of the cosmos, earth, water, architecture, and a supreme being.

Help Our Veterans by Alex Angel

11. What are your plans for the future as an artist? What would you like to do after finishing graduate school? What new opportunities do you hope to encounter by acquiring the MFA?

My plans are to keep working on my art, making the works larger, more refined, more developed, more informed, and more evolved. By acquiring the MFA, I hope to acquire the opportunity to meet, network and learn from many artists, educators, curators, gallerists, etc. I am also hoping the MFA opens up opportunities for internships, residencies, and work at amazing galleries and art institutions/museums.

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