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Alex Urie’s large scale paintings are the result of a physical process of brushing, pouring, dumping and flooding household paint tinted with oil paint onto an untreated surface of canvas or the more textured and porous surfaces of linen and jute. Urie starts by placing the stretcher horizontally onto blocks on the floor. He then plans his work by drawing and marking on both the front and back before applying latex or binding agents in areas that will resist the liquid seeping through. Working initially on the reverse side of the final artwork means that when it is flipped over a residual, and sometimes completely unforeseen image is revealed. He then proceeds to work on both sides while the medium is still wet, building up layers of colour and texture as well as introducing more graphic elements, to compose a complex picture plane. Urie relishes the relationship between this way of working and that of printmaking or casting techniques, where certain elements of the outcome are unpremeditated.
This immersive process of making the work suggests that the resulting paintings are purely abstract. However, Urie employs personal photographs and random found online imagery (such as from Trip Advisor or You Tube) in the production of these compositions, all of which offers the viewer to pause and take a closer look at each painting. Employing a restricted palette of largely muted colours, through repeated motifs and the compartmentalising of areas on the surface, Urie creates perspective – interior and exterior space. The artist cites as his influences the distinct practices of Bonnard’s domestic interiors on one hand, and Michael Bauer’s frenzied surfaces where the canvas provides a ‘dumping ground for psychological debris’.
Urie’s work invites slow and meditative looking, but technology is at the centre of these works. He assimilates and contrasts the fast transition of digital information in his source material with the process driven and haptic production of the works. The resolved and elegant presence of these works has in this sense devolved from a much more frenetic and contemporary reality.
The artist has written about the work, “I approach these canvases like salvaged grounds… Although the work is process driven, I continue to question how these paintings might function like errant narrative paintings, how they are tied to location, or might begin to be quite instructional or diagrammatic.”
About Alex Urie
Alex Urie (1985) obtained his BA in Sculpture at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL London in 2006. He was awarded the Frank Bowling Scholarship Award and graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Arts, UAL London, in 2017. In 2018 he was a recipient of the Chelsea College of Art MA Studio Award, providing him with a one-year free Acme studio space, a bursary and the opportunity to take part in a four-person two-week showcase at PEER in October 2018. In 2019 he presented Scrim, a solo exhibition at The Stone Space, Leytonstone.