Alex Israel: Desperado


Mixografia is pleased to announce the release of Desperado, a suite of four prints by Alex Israel. The artworks are on view at Mixografia (1419 East Adams Boulevard) beginning Monday, September 13, from 9am to 5pm by appointment. Please click here or call (323) 232-1158 to schedule a visit.

In Desperado, Israel makes use of a film prop that he also adapted as a sculptural edition of the same name. In his latest collaboration with Mixografia, Israel reimagines Desperado as a handmade paper edition in bas relief: a 1950s Corvette convertible parked driverless beside a saguaro cactus and embedded in the desert earth. Sampled from Israel’s Sky Backdrop paintings, the glowing hues of a Southern California sunset surround the car and cactus. Desperado combines digital printing together with Mixografia’s unique paper making and printing techniques—a first for the studio—pushing the medium toward a new and rich approach to textural depth and perspectival illusion.

The vehicle sits idly beneath a dramatic sky, conjuring images of an unseen protagonist disappearing toward the horizon. It is representative of the Southwestern landscape as mythologized in film and television, echoing the iconic conclusion of Callie Khouri and Ridley Scott’s 1991 road fable “Thelma and Louise”, which finds the film’s eponymous characters at a symbolic and literal precipice following the plot’s long pursuit. Israel borrows the work’s title from the popular song by the influential California rock band “The Eagles,” a tale centering around a cowhand whose tortured imagination draws parallels to the struggles of an artist in pursuit of the truth.

Desperado exemplifies the approach toward craft and technical artistry that sits at the heart of both filmmaking and printmaking. The artworks celebrate a long-held tradition of artisanship and inventiveness in cinematic storytelling by way of matte painting, digital scanning, model-making, staging and blocking, and forced perspective camera techniques. Through the use of handmade techniques and advanced digital technology, Desperado reflects a world of setpieces and stage directions, conjuring the impression of a fantastical, nostalgic past that might have been captured on 70 millimeter film stock. The four versions—variable in car color and sky—are snapshots of the American West, calling up dreamlike memories of a Hollywood that’s all but gone, never forgotten.

Alex Israel (b. 1982, Los Angeles) earned a B.A. from Yale University, Connecticut, and an M.F.A. from University of Southern California, Roski School of Fine Arts, Los Angeles. Israel’s works are included in major museums and private collections worldwide, including: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

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