The NGV’s summer program is setting up to be an amazing mix of contemporary artist, challenging the way we see and think about multiple art factions, with exhibitions such as the Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk already taking the art scene by storm.
A new artist to be exhibited at the NGV this summer is Alex Prager, a young contemporary artist from Los Angeles.
A self taught photographer, filmmaker and artist, Prager depicts fears and anxiety through created sets and scenes, utilising highly saturated colours to highlight the epoch of time her works are concerned with.
We spoke to Alex at her opening last week, about her inspirations for her pieces, her experience working with Hollywood Heavyweights George Clooney and Brad Pitt, and her NGV Exhibition.
What are your main inspirations for your artwork?
It comes from so many different places its hard to know really, but if I have a show coming up and need inspiration, I sometimes go to my costumes and wigs and look at all the textures, patterns and colours of what’s in my studio that I’ve been collecting for the past decade, and come up with ideas from there. I also flick through photo books and paintings to try and come up with something, but mostly the scenes around Los Angeles can really spark the imagination as it’s such a cinematic city. Also, having a love of old Hollywood and drama like films such as Wizard of Oz and the melodramatic saturated colours that old Hollywood had in the 40s and 50s are some of my inspirations.
But really, the work that I’m doing now was always meant to be this way, it just took many years to figure out what and how to do it. I also like that my works are based on a long timeline, and that the inspirations are meant to be hard to find as it’s hard to pinpoint what timeframe you’re in, the colours and inspirations coming from the 50s to the 60s through 90s.
You said you were self taught; how did you get into art creation?
I walked into a William Eggleston exhibition when I was younger, in my in early 20s, and from that I decided to; I just knew I wanted to [create art].
The photographs almost look like paintings, do you have any background in painting?
No background, just all photography and films. It is like painting though, in the sense that I’ll shoot everything in camera, on film, nothing’s created later on photoshop. So the components are all filmed, and then I’ll use photoshop as a tool to take those components and marry them all into one frame. My sister is a painter and I’ve seen the way she works, where she starts with a face then a hand, and I work in a similar way just not with the same tool.
When you choose the sets and the colours, is there an idea of a person (actor/actress) that you want to be the heroine of the piece?
It’s usually not a specific actress, but I’ll have a very specific look and emotion in mind, so finding the actress comes second. But it’s a lot easier to find that actress when I know what I’m looking for.
What was it like working with such large Hollywood heavyweights such as brad pitt and George Clooney? Did you work with them personally?
It was great to work with actors who really know what they’re doing. They were all so nice and confident in what they’re doing as they’ve done it for so long.
Within your pieces, there is a pervading sense of anxiety and fear, something which is seen a lot in Cindy Sherman’s pieces that concern the voyeur and the male gaze. Were there any specific art issues that you wanted to address in your own works?
I mean I want people to think about whatever clicks for them personally. I put my own anxieties and emotion into the work and then layer this saturated beauty and Hollywood bubble on top to give this juxtaposition of ‘is this real, is this fake? Is this beautiful, is this ugly? I want those questions to be asked; but its not a feminist statement in any way, it’s more about my experiential tract and having those moments, especially with Face in the Crowd. It’s a very personal body of work, that comes out from travelling a lot and meeting a lot of strangers, and going through that world of navigating through crowds and having anxiety, and sometimes feeling more lonely than ever.
Any further plans for next year?
I’m having a show of all new works in Hong Kong in March to tie in with Art festivities.
Check out Alex Prager’s self titled Exhibition open at the NGV till April 2015.