Editor: Christopher George
As part of our current series of interviews with artists exhibiting at this year’s Talented Art Fair – at the Old Truman Brewery from 1 to 3 March - we talked to Alexa Harris about her work and influences.
In a few words, who are you and what do you do?
I am Alexa Harris, a mixed media artist. I work from my studio based in West London in the creative hub known as Kindred Studios. I work across several mediums constantly exploring the language of what I do. I am currently painting in oils and always drawing.
What is your background?
I was born and bred in Leeds, went to Jacob Kramer School of Art, then studied Fine art at Nottingham Trent University. In the early years I trained in theatre design at The National Youth Theatre. My professional career has spanned across television, theatre and film, which has brought me to where I am creatively today.
How would you describe your work? Talk us through your creative process,
My work has rawness, which is both abstracted and deconstructed. l love an unfinished edge; an unfilled area in a landscape or a headless figure. This keeps my interest to full immersion. I am excited by colour and form and playing with light. I am obsessed by the three-dimensionality of the line and how one can literally cut space.
My work is multi-layered, in colour, form and meaning. Surfaces are always important to me. From layering, making and preparing new quality surfaces, using handcrafted hand stained and ripped collage. These stages are often experimental and an exciting part of my process.
Knowing when to stop, keeping a freshness and clarity of the mark is important. I know when something is overworked it’s gone too far, I have to strip it back down again. I try to reveal the subject’s strength and fragility simultaneously, which is hard.
Who and what are your biggest influences?
My late father, who was an artist, is a particular influence. When I had to clear his studio I discovered unseen works and a plethora of exciting found objects. More than simply objects, for me they were jolts of memory filled with nostalgia and aroma that I have the privilege to protect and reinvent.
Growing up, I have always loved going to the ballet and the magic created on stage stayed with me. When I draw and paint the nude it’s the fascination of the human form in space that is mirrored. Playing with light and weight is what I try to do in my work to capture an essence of a moment and of space.
Bill Viola’s video works about life, religion and death, and Nam June Paik’s video art and installations have always inspired me. So have Man Ray’s Photography and conceptual works and friendship with Marcel Duchamp. Frank Auerbach and the London School have definitely shaped how I work today and my constant excitement of mark making, oils and finding beauty in the banal everyday and distortions of form.
Who would you say are your favourite contemporary artists?
The list is long but would have to include Robert Rauschenberg, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Saville, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews, Gavin Turk, Bob and Roberta Smith, Sean Scully and, of course, Bill Viola.
What makes you get up and create art?
My studio is the place I need to be. In my old - and sometimes cold - Victorian studio in Queens Park, I am surrounded by my mysterious found objects; some suspended overhead like my Dad’s smoking pipe, or his black hat or an old casino dice, which sit on my Danish cheese board worktable, all in the need to be transformed into something that speaks to me.
Finding a language for my work to come to life is what drives me. Be it through painting abstracted landscapes on corrugated board, which has become an obsession. My work is a visual conversation, pushing and pulling and constantly challenging me.
What will you be showing at Talented Art Fair?
I’ll be showing a series of new landscapes as well as nudes
Also, if ready,‘ Dad’s chair’ which is a new part from my recent installation, ‘Does that mean you’re not coming to dinner?’
TALENTED ART FAIR runs from 1-3 March at Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London E1
Entry is free on Saturday and Sunday (12-6.30pm)
Private View on Friday (6-9pm) is ticketed
For more information and tickets, visit: https://www.talentedartfair.com/