Alexander's exploration of Egell's baroque altarpiece in Red Mannheim embodies a revitalized conversation between modern visual artists and those before them. Through various techniques, he reinterprets and refreshes the work, steering viewers to consider it afresh. He does this by alienating the core subject, displacing the religious iconography, and leveraging elements of surprise to foster deeper engagement.
Central to Alexander's approach is the fragmented state of the Egell Altar—a poignant, if not jarring, prompt for viewers to reflect on the ravaged state of the original masterpiece. The absence of certain figures and elements, presented starkly in black in his paintings, echoes what Ingarden and Iser would describe as "blanks" or "indeterminacies." These gaps provoke viewer interpretation, fostering an ever-evolving dialogue with the artwork and ensuring its continued relevance.
This method of appropriative reproduction isn't unique to Alexander. It's seen in works like Cindy Sherman's photographic reinterpretations of Old Master paintings. Such approaches challenge longstanding notions of "uniqueness, authorship, and originality." When artists like Alexander reference iconic works, they're building upon a rich tradition of engaging with seminal pieces. They're leveraging art history's system to enrich their own creations, operating on a meta-level to bring the past into the present.
Böde Museum, Berlin
19.March - 27 September 2015
Red Mannheim I & II (Solo Exhibition)
Contemplating the Spiritual in Contemporary Art Rosenfeld Porcini, London 07 June – 13 July 2019