Alex Urban ‘pfff…’
The derisive tone of the title is already suggestive of Alex Urban’s attitude to her own artistic practice and the so-called art world in itself. The Wrocław-based artist’s ease in the way she approaches the topics of corporeality, sexuality and religion in her works is evident in her sporadic tendency for coarse associations and vulgar jokes. It is as if she cared little for how audiences, critics and curators might respond. It is very own rhythm and jargon working through the themes soaking through contemporary visual culture.
In a similar way, her canvases drip with sticky swathes of colour. The bright palette often chosen by Urban detracts from the reality of what might otherwise by banal, simple scenes that play out on her canvases. These vivid colours, brought in from the phantasmagorical imagery of pop culture, take on a certain toxicity. Suffused with kitschy sexuality, these works are not quite a starting point for a biographical interpretation of the painter’s own experience or art therapy. They become, rather, a diagnosis of the reality that lies beyond, as seen through the eyes of the artist. Diagnosis might be too harsh a word for what she does – hers is more of an ironic snort in the face of the world.
Aleksandra Urban (born 1978), lives and works in Wrocław. She graduated from the Wrocław Academy of Fine Arts and is a two-time recipient of a stipend from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. In her works, she deals with the darker side of virtual society. She makes use of the imagery drawn from the net, mostly the sort that demonstrates the demise and fall of the intellect, the cruelty and trolling that abounds, corporate and political manipulation, and hidden rooms of sexuality. Her canvases reverberate with strong colours, expressive gestures of the painter’s brush and drips of paint that lift figuration and content above their decorative character and into an earnest commentary on reality. Hers is a play between painterly techniques and the imagination colliding with the dregs of human nature. Urban’s works have been exhibited at Art Space Gallery in Edinburgh, LETO in Warsaw, Geppert’s Apartment in Wrocław, Art Agenda Nova in Kraków, Bestregarts Gallery in Frankfurt, Hugenottenhalle in Neu-Isenburg; Wrocław Museum of Contemporary Art, EC Gallery in Chicago, A Gentil Carioca in Rio de Janeiro, BWA Studio in Wrocław, BWA in Kielce, Landskrona Art Gallery in Landskrona, Dio Horia in Mykonos, BWA in Olsztyn, Platan Gallery in Budapest and Stephen Romano Gallery in New York.