November 28, 2009 – January 2, 2010
Alex Couwenberg, who was honored with the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in 2007, continues to expand his visual lexicon in a solo exhibition of new work at Royale Projects. The Los Angeles Times recently described his paintings as “sleek, multilayered, spatially sophisticated compositions”, but these words barely scratch the meticulously finished surface.
Comparisons to the renown Abstract Classicists of the midcentury are inevitable. This is in part due to the influence of his long time mentor Karl Benjamin and in part due to his dedication to the perfection and progression of the techniques innovated by post war painters such as Karl Benjamin and Lorser Feitelson. Alex Couwenberg has as much in common, in his sensitivity to pure aesthetic, with revered contemporary California artist Chuck Arnoldi. Alex Couwenberg, like Arnoldi, boldly and deliberately crafts “beautiful” paintings and in doing so has created a visual language that is undeniably his own singular voice.
The new body of work in Waimea introduces large canvases covered in wide expanses of meditative, monochrome, suddenly broken by dense, chaotic layers of hard edge design. As if his work is a series of abstract semiotic studies, these intrusions of amorphic shapes, luxuriant textures, and slick pin-striping allude to deep rooted icons of West Coast culture.
This year Alex Couwenberg’s paintings have been added to the permanent collections of the Laguna Art Museum and the Claremont Museum of Art. Waimea is the first solo exhibition for Alex Couwenberg at Royale Projects.