SAMSTAG ALUMNI 2010

Alex Lawler 
Born 1981, Milan, Italy 

Alex Lawler's multi–media practice examines the formal and aesthetic qualities of Post–minimalism through the lens of ideas such as sensation, memory and the subconscious. He seeks to 'remove the minimalist object from its self–reflexive history, and place it firmly into the world of lived experience': similarly, his work brings the formal components germane to painting into the world of objects.

His specific conceptual concerns include investigations into the speculative, functional, sensual and didactic possibilities of painting: his work questions, for example, 'what inner vision exists when looking at monochrome painting'.

Lawler's visual language draws upon the genealogies of Minimalism, Post–minimalism and Formalism, and his investigations are distinguished by a wry, understated humour that typically references popular culture. For example, the concept behind his 2006 installation, 'Orgasmatron', was appropriated from the iconic 1968 science–fiction film, Barbarella (directed by Roger Vadim). Lawler's Orgasmatron, however, created an environment 'that simulated the instructional aspects of abstract painting', and was a 'parody of the concept of being able to make people feel certain things in the presentation of abstract art'.

Recent works have sought to position painting as 'living past its own supposed death, which is therefore continually struggling to come to terms with its own existence.' This sense of anxiety is critical to Lawler's practice, in which he seeks to invent 'situations' of function. In these situations 'painting' mimics other, non-painting objects, as a way of living through the crisis of its own identity.

The Pie Graph Painting thus takes its form and composition from statistical data involved in the hosting of (www.bellstreet.net). Lawler notes that in hosting a website, one has access to information about the identities and activities of people visiting the website. The recognition of each computer's IP address, tells the host from which country people have been accessing the site. This information is available on the user's account as a pie graph. In Pie Graph Painting, Lawler has taken the monthly pie graph of January 2007, as a means of composing a circular abstract painting.

The creation of systems through which to make paintings, is also a gesture toward a 'negation of emotional expressionistic tendencies' in the practice of painting. In adopting a system through which to develop colour and composition in painting, the subjective drive of the author is decentralized in the reading of the work.

Text by Ross Wolfe, September 2009 

2010 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship 
2010 Research Student, Goldsmiths College, London, UK
2008 Masters of Visual Arts, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney 
2004  Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours), Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney 

Artist's website: www.alexlawler.com