Category Archives: Alex Brew

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Oil Painting of Hampstead Heath 2019

When the trees speak, listen. Oil paintings from photographs taken during naturally occurring altered states. Receptivity to non human states. What sort of connection do I want? Exploitative or contemplative/philosophical/gaining self and world understanding.

Trying to get across the bodily feel of looking at particular environments through the paint. Trying to get into a meditative way of looking at the thing in front of me.

There are multiple layers of understanding. There’s the mind’s way of understanding. Analytical or process based understanding. There’s learning and memory. And there are deeper layers that exist on the body and in its energetic fields. You can get really dense clumps of energy maybe around your chest or throat when you’re upset or you can get a lighting up and feel of flowing energy when you have a new insight or are following a trail.

There are physical understandings too – like when you learn how to do something and then when it starts to become automatic like playing the piano or drawing/painting or driving

And there are understandings that come from experience – a kind of empathic understanding of situations that people or things can be in from similar experiences we’ve had or by putting self in their shoes. Understandings can come from putting yourself in particular situations. From making certain decisions.

Understandings can come from connections. A sort of linking into.

From trial and error.

The paintings are a way of following a trail and of trial and error connections to the environment. To my own felt sense of switching on – to God really. Not god with a capital G. More like some sense of attention and a feeling of an all-pervasive, benevolent spirit that seems to exist in the trees and the breeze moving through them. There’s a receptivity and trust that I get into and a putting myself on the back burner. Just waiting for what wants to be known. That can be anything – like the trail of learning… things that come that lead you in particular directions. Different directions to the next person.

cross-stitch

I’m interested in making work about the the world around and inside – both visible and invisible. A recurring question is “within this system how can we manage to be most fully human”.  To me, art is a manifestation of life: a direct visual proof of the life moving inside us. The belief that art is mimesis or representation – that art came beneath ideas until ideas infiltrated it – has killed what is alive in art. The spirit of art dies when we think of it as only a representation or idea. Art is the proof of life lived here. Proof of internal life. Internal lives moving the hand that makes the drawing or painting or sculpture.  A drawing follows the line that’s inside me. Art gets reintegrated into our lives and used as an environment that in part at least helps us to get back in touch with our internal, living, soulful selves. We produce what we produce when the bigger world – life, our environment and all that out there – moves through us. How do we deepen that connection, tap into what’s bigger? Can we risk allowing art to use us instead of us using art? Can we get to a new state of being? One that isn’t exploitative but tunes into the larger world around us and allows its expression through us?

Writing

The Awakening Conscience AKA From Professional to Poverty AKA From Striver to Skiver

This PDF is a zine/pamphlet from 2013. It is an urgent attack on Striver mentality that is keeping us from really living and really sticking up for our rights! This is to do with our collective struggle with the meaning in life and work – oh and the government’s thoughts on these things come into this zine because – well – when you’re living in poverty you come under attack from the powers that be. C’est la vie. This has been stocked by Infoshop at 56a, Newsfromnowhere in Liverpool and Housmans Radical Bookshop in Kings Cross.

At Sea With Sexists

This is a taster of a zine I put out in 2009 which has been archived by the British Library, The Women’s Library at LSE, London College of Communications and Grassroots Feminisms. It was stocked by Freedom Bookshop, Housmans, Newsfromnowhere and 56a.

 

Photographs – Sexuality/Gender

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This project ‘Asking For It’ was from around 2008.

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This project is from around 2008 when I started approaching men in public places outside offices, pubs, cafes and gentlemen’s venues often in London’s square mile and then negotiating with them into a more private space – an alleyway, a car park, or back at their place or mine. Once there I asked them to remove items of clothes. A series of hand-printed, black and white images. It taught me a lot about my relationships with men and sexual dynamics between at least myself and men if not more universally. In particular I became aware of lack of societal protections for me as I transgressed norms of gender behaviour. The work was shown at KCL and KODE, Bergen and other venues and published in academic journals