Sketchbook Circle: Curated by Cally Trench

Alex Dewart

Stockade by Alex Dewart
Alex Dewart, Stockade, 2006
Oil and acrylic on canvas,
160 x 120 cm
Blue Mountain by Alex Dewart
Alex Dewart, Blue Mountain, 2007
Oil and acrylic on canvas,
120 x 80 cm

Alex Dewart writes: I paint large landscapes which have some basis in reality and could be described as lying between the real and the imaginary. The images have often come from memories of my native Northern Ireland, but are also based on ideas from stories, poems and sometimes real places. Last year my work took a different path. During my MA Fine Art course at Central St Martins, I spent a significant portion of each day on the train. For a long time I've used computer software to manipulate my watercolour sketches, and then generally help in the development of a painting. On the train, I found it a good use of the time to both start and develop the sketches directly on the computer. From these computer drawings, I then started to paint - giving paintings which explored the difference betweeen digital and analogue; between the simulated and the real; between representation and abstraction.

Since finishing at Central Saint Martins, I am no longer on the train and so my work is following a new path. This latest work is an exploration of the 'contemporary sublime'. In the middle of the 19th century, painters of the American West conveyed the idea of the awesome, frightening, yet beautiful landscape, new to the eyes of European settlers. The sublime experience of landscape has been experienced in very different ways in the 20th and 21st centuries. In the middle of the 20th century, classic films such as Lawrence of Arabia or Dr Zhivago, with their luscious cinematography, shown on the large cinema screen, gave millions of people a sense of the beauty and danger of both the landcsape and of epic recent historical events. A similar sense of capturing the weight of history was achieved in the film Gandhi, filmed in the early 1980s. This century has seen an explosion of computerised reality: the scenery of New Zealand streched and manipulated in The Lord of the Rings, in addition to the proliferation of computer games where you can build your own world. The field of animation has also given us many sublime experiences - the snowy mountains in Mulan, the episode in Monsters Inc which takes place in a warehouse larger beyond the imagination.

Using images from a recent trip to Morocco and a forthcoming trip to the French Alps, I will explore these ideas in making large landscape paintings.

Alex Dewart's website

Alex shared sketchbooks with Anne Woodham, Helen Price and Cally Trench.

Sketchbook Circle

Cally Trench's homepage