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Emsley, Alex

Alex Emsley (born in 1973) obtained a degree in Fine Art, and a distinction in painting, from the University of Stellenbosch.

Alex focuses predominantly on the re-exploration of still life painting, in which simple arrangements of random items are depicted in obsessive detail. The choice of his subject matter plays only a secondary role, for it is the actual process of painting, the act of transferring a photographic image on to a canvas, which lies at the heart of his modus operandi. In this respect, his work shares an unlikely thread with the abstract expressionists, who regarded the actual process of painting as a psychological activity which outweighed the finished product. They regarded the completed painting simply as ‘physical evidence’ of this undertaking. While visually striking objects are portrayed, these compositions can quite literally be regarded as ‘excuses to paint’.

Arrangements of commonplace objects are transformed into visions of the banal, imbued with a certain ‘quietness’ or ‘stillness’. In so doing, Emsley re-discovers the tradition of still life painting, a genre that is often neglected in the current climate of contemporary art.

All paintings are executed in oil on linen, while drawings are executed in charcoal on paper.