Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Couwenberg.
Alex, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I entered this world in 1967. My parents were immigrants from Indonesia and Holland and I am a first generation American, born and raised in Southern California. I am the oldest of three kids. I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years at the beach surfing and skateboarding and trying to make sense of it all. Growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s was amazing! It was an era I feel was heavily defined by a sense of soul and style. Through music, fashion, art, and design, this period was electric and represented my world, instantly consuming me and my attention. I was drawn to the ideals of surf culture and punk rock and the philosophies, attitude and aesthetic associated with it – “DIY” (do it yourself). Do it my way became my mantra. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and place that allowed me to have plenty of freedom to define and express myself. When it became time to focus a little more in life with some direction, I continued to follow my natural instincts and go into the arts. All the elements were already there from my upbringing. Now it was just a matter of putting everything in place.
I went to art school to understand and refine my vision and craft and eventually fell in love with the process of painting. This was a great moment and exciting time in my life as everything started to take form. I began my journey as a painter out of graduate school. I also started a career as an arts educator teaching and sharing my life experience as an artist and human with others. I married my wife now of almost 22 years. During this time, we have raised and educated four children. Have traveled the world and made amazing friends all as a result of being involved in the arts. Aside from living in LA, we also live part time on the Big Island of Hawaii where I spend my days with family, friends, surfing and making art, just like I did when I was younger. Funny how things naturally connect and circle back around again.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
A native of Southern California, I make paintings that are inspired by the visual elements indigenous to my surroundings. My work references and suggests the aesthetic associated with mid-century modernism, architecture, design, patterns, car culture, skateboards, and surfboards to name a few. My paintings also give a nod to the historical styles of post-war art making associated with the region throughout the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. They are created in the spirit of the Hard-edge geometric abstractionists, the finish fetish, and the light and space artists who have all created a foundation to the visual landscape and conversation of LA’s art community today. Not content to replicate, I use the sensibility and principles of Eames-era design as points of departure for creating paintings. My process, an additive and reductive series of moves and passes, creates multilayered environments that are deep and sensual. Through this process, my work functions as a filter that echoes and reflects what I see through my daily experiences.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
I think one of the biggest challenges facing artists today is keeping up and staying in tune with the art world. Not just in LA, but the global art community. I am guilty of this as well and it takes a huge effort to keep myself informed and up to date with what is happening and on top of the ever-changing ways to navigate through this fluid industry. Understanding that being an artist is not just about being a maker of things in a studio somewhere, but how that practice must be balanced out with a sense of business, marketing and promotion. There is a sophistication and a nuance required to approach galleries, curators, writers, directors, and museums. Creating relationships that grow into bigger things. Educating yourself and knowing the do’s and don’ts of the art world. Understanding where you fit into the system. The path we chose is not for the weak. Many artists live in a fantasy bubble, which is great when it comes to being in the studio and making the work, but seem to have little understanding of how to take that next step and get their work out of the studio and into the world.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I am showing new paintings in December at Melissa Morgan Fine Art based on a collaborative project I’ve been working on with neon artist Lisa Schulte. Also in a group show entitled “Paintings from the Interior” curated by Andi Campognone at University of CA, Riverside that opens in early January.
Website and social media:
Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, Canada
Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO
Melissa Morgan, Palm Desert, CA
- Website: alexcouwenberg.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: alex.couwenberg
- Facebook: Alex Couwenberg