Alex Israel (b. 1982)
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Alex Israel (b. 1982)

Untitled (Flat)

Details
Alex Israel (b. 1982)
Untitled (Flat)
signed, stamped and dated ‘WARNER BROS. STUDIOS BURBANK, CA. Alex Israel ‘12’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on stucco on panel
90 x 54in. (228.6 x 137.2cm.)
Executed in 2012
Provenance
Peres Projects, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

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Alexandra Werner
Alexandra Werner

Lot Essay

‘Well, the way I produce my art, how it actually gets made, is all very much a part of my work. Many of my works require, as fundamental to their existence, the Warner Brothers production crews to fabricate them. This process gives a Sky Backdrop painting, for example, the same exact quality as a movie backdrop. This is a quality that can’t be replicated anywhere else.’
–Alex Israel


Stuccoed and painted with deep shades of pink, orange and light blue, Alex Israel’s Untitled (Flat) (2012) echoes the soft rosy hues of a candy-coloured sunset in Los Angeles, arousing romantic ideas of Hollywood that shroud hidden conceptual depths. Its outer shape rooted in historical church altarpieces, Untitled (Flat) is turned into an object of devotion for the cult of Hollywood; a sacred object that ironically guarantees social immortalisation. The work also takes its exterior shape from the Californian Spanish Colonial Revival Style, combining high and lowbrow design principles into a hybrid form that is both witty and alluring. However, the seductive charm of Untitled (Flat) cunningly conceals a rigorous conceptual profundity. Although the work hangs on a wall, the artist intentionally avoids defining it a painting; rather, he names it ‘flat’, a technical term used in the film and television industry to describe large panels upon which a set is painted, giving the impression of a backdrop. The title implicitly refers to the hierarchical relationship between stage and action: the painting may be seen as a mere backdrop for a performance, or as something ersatz and illusory – a representation but not the real thing. Yet, at the same time, the work contains none of the three-dimensional illusion of representational academic painting, instead existing before us as a literal beautiful object: our sense of the work’s reality and illusion flipping back and forth, Israel’s work, always elusive, resists resolved interpretation. Born in Los Angeles in 1982, Israel’s flourishing career embodies the magical spirit of his homeland: the worldwide advertised centre of the entertainment industry and the American dream. The artist’s obsession with Hollywood seems to have been inevitably inspired by Andy Warhol, and both Warhol’s and Israel’s productions have irreverently fetishised the principles from which their paintings emerge; whilst Warhol saw New York as the suitable centre for his superstars and Factory, Israel’s artistic practice, which flourishes between production studios and film sets, aims to recreate a new factory in Hollywood. As such, Untitled (Flat), with its ironically religious overtones, investigates the nature of creation of myths in America and criticises the modern culture of worship that produces such fantasies of fame and fairy-tales. By stripping the world of Los Angeles and Hollywood bare, Alex Israel ‘deals in the realities of Hollywood rather than the illusions of cinema’ (A. Moshayedi, ‘Alex Israel’, in Interview Magazine, reproduced at http://www. interviewmagazine.com/art/alex-israel [accessed 06 February 2017]).

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