Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, and cellophane snack packaging are just a few of the unlikely inspirations for Alex Blau’s glossy paintings. Her small-scale, soft–edged works are made by pouring layer upon layer of clear acrylic over alternating layers of airbrushed patterning.
Blau’s use of shaped canvasses in combination with her process of essentially embedding paint in clear acrylic reinforces the sculptural quality of her paintings. This strategy of emphasizing the material aspects of the painting over the pictorial ones link her work to painters such as Kelly and Frank Stella, who downplay illusionary space and emphasize the physicality of the painting. In the early stages of Blau’s process, sometimes the surfaces are damages or cracked, and the ensuing layers of acrylic lock-in the mishaps. In the end, the paintings remind us of their handmade origins like those of a custom-painted surfboard or an old mirror whose silver backing has begun to peel away. Blau is a fan of the aesthetics of snack packaging.
Alex Blau's work is currently on view in an touring exhibition entitled GLEE: PAINTING NOW curated by Jessica Hough, the assistant curator of The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, and currently on view at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art.