There’s nothing to match flying over Los Angeles by night. A sort of luminous, geometric, incandescent immensity, stretching as far as the eye can see, bursting forth from the cracks on the clouds. Only Hieronymous Bosch’s hell can match this inferno effect. – Jean Beaudrillard
Franklin Parrasch Gallery is pleased to announce Pre-Dawn L.A., an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Peter Alexander dating from 1990-1991.
Peter Alexander (b.1939) has developed a language that revels in the pulse and trajectory of life and activity in Los Angeles as seen from a distance in the halo of city lights. His visual story is one of a love affair with his hometown, which, like most love affairs, includes an obsession with the subject’s many facets: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Working from composites of his own photographs, Alexander constructed scenes of neighborhoods that defined what he perceived as the sensibility of Los Angeles at that moment in time. He then composed these images as a poetic reaction to his own interpretations of that sensibility. In the catalogue essay for his 1999 Orange County Museum of Art retrospective entitled In This Light, the artist reflected on his observations just prior to the Los Angeles Riots:
If I was feeling something dark going on in LA, well, this place has always been devilish. I’ve read that in the 1850s the per capita murder rate in this town was greater than in any other city in the world at that time; it was astounding, something like four people per day when the total population was only around 10,000. In ’91 LA did seem dark, and I had a feeling, an expectation, that something was going to happen. That something was the riots, which of course I didn’t realize at the time.
The consummate theme throughout the artist’s oeuvre, the transmission and perception of light, is also a defining source of imagery in these representations of Los Angeles. Aerial views of curvaceous elevated terrain, strategically and logically traced by the chain of electric street and commercial lighting, is starkly contrasted by the density and darkness of juxtaposing unlit land, ocean, or sky. The sense of unpredictability is interspersed within the systemic arrangements of gridded streets and highways. It is the moments and spaces between the brightly lit and legibly perceived that Alexander’s quizzical views probe.
Peter Alexander studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania; the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London; and the University of California, Berkeley before switching to studio art at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received his BA in 1965 and his MFA in 1968. Alexander has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide since the mid-1960s, including a recent career survey of sculpture at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles. Alexander has received multiple honors and awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1980 and the California Art Award in 2014. In 1999, the Orange County Museum of Art (Newport Beach) mounted a retrospective exhibition In this Light inclusive of painting and sculpture. His work resides in the permanent collections of numerous institutions including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York).
Pre-Dawn L.A. will be on view at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, 53 East 64 Street, New York, from January 12—February 25, 2017. For images, biography, and further information, please contact Katharine Overgaard at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212-246-5360 during business hours: 10a-6p, Tuesday-Saturday.