“There’s a common assumption that the “miniature” in Indian miniature paintings refers to the size of the artwork. While they were most commonly hand-held manuscripts to be lingered over in close proximity rather than viewed on a wall, some of the paintings were quite large and the diminutive refers to the artists’ brushes, the finest of which are tipped with a single squirrel hair.
It’s mesmerizing to watch a master miniature painter at work. The quiet, intense focus, the occasional barely perceptible holding of the artist’s breath, as if the slightest exhalation might interfere with the hand muscles and distort the lines (which are indeed breath-taking in their delicacy). In this tradition, concentration is everything: the painting is either perfect or it’s wrong.
The painter’s language is revealing. You need “soft hands” to achieve such tender subtlety but “force” too because it demonstrates the clarity of vision, an unwavering steady hand, and clear intent. This is true even when painting a leaf in the margin but particularly so when applying the “cut” or the outline that delineates the face, which is the ultimate test for the master painter.
If softness, delicacy, force and concentration are essential qualities in the making of a miniature painting (or the finest lace, wood carving or silver filigree work for that matter) they also play a part in how we look at them. In slow, careful looking, you feel the eye as a muscle focusing in on the infinitesimal details and tracking patterns where they exist. An intense relationship develops in the intimate space between the object and the viewer. It’s the same distance and a similar connection that earlier existed between the object and the artist and this forms an empathy and kinship between the maker and the viewer. (…)
To begin, why do we equate size with power? Are mass, volume and weight always implicitly associated with strength or fragility? Public sculptures celebrating national pride, military conquests or heroic achievements rely on scale to capture public attention, to be seen by more people and from a greater distance. Giant artworks outside financial institutions or in corporate lobbies imply largesse in relation to wealth, value, and status. Cathedrals were built to subsume us, to remind the congregation of our own insignificance in relation to the almighty. In these contexts, size is equated with a form of power that’s used to impress, possess, dominate and even oppress. Power exists because it’s held over another.
The notion of power is still however essentially symbolic or metaphorical, rooted in concepts of the dominant belief system. There are of course alternative forms of power. The magic powers of a talisman worn in a pouch round the neck, a lucky charm kept in
one’s pocket, or a cherished photograph; all these may be profoundly powerful objects for the individual. Edward Snowden’s thumb-drive that held thousands of NSA documents can signify the fundamental change in how we perceive the State. The image of a single bullet has enormous symbolic power, as does a diamond wedding ring.
While these objects may be viewed as having innate qualities, we choose to invest them with our ideas of power and relevance, but this is equally true of whatever qualities we project onto a gigantic Richard Serra sculpture. It’s just stuff.”
Alexander Gorlizkis own words in the introduction to “A Concentration of Power”, group show curated by Alex Gorlizki in London, Joost van Bergh (Decembre 2018-January 2019).
Portray of Alex from Martin Kudleks website:
“Alexander Gorlizki’s immersion in the world of Indian Miniature paintings over the past 15 years has yielded an eclectic body of work, often with startling results. Fascinated by the forms, sensibility and techniques of Mughal miniatures, Gorlizki has sought to incorporate his own visual language into the 600-year-old tradition with a subversive reverence.
In 1994 he established a studio in Jaipur’s old city with Riyaz Uddin, a master miniaturist painter. Having spent over a decade copying traditional miniature paintings for the local tourist market, Uddin had developed a mastery of the technique, rendering infinitesimal details with absolute precision.
Gorlizki conceptualizes and draws out the iconography, patterns, compositions and colour schemes onto antique or distressed papers and photographs. Uddin then applies jewel-coloured pigments and gold leaf with a single-hair-tipped brush to create works of breathtaking intricacy. Working side by side in the studio or shipping images back and forth between New York and Jaipur, the paintings evolve layer by layer, often over a period of years.
In that time the studio has developed into an atelier in which up to nine artists with different areas of expertise work on the paintings, often passing the work from hand to hand. Gorlizki believes that working in collaboration leads to a rich dialogue yielding unexpected results, while at the same time exposing the participants to a wealth of specialized skills and knowledge. The trans-global collaboration represents a cross-fertilization that is as valuable as the finished work of art. […]
Gorlizki draws on a diverse variety of sources. Elements from Victorian plumbing manuals are juxtaposed with ornithological studies and transposed onto film stills of Hollywood stars. Patterns from English knitting catalogues combine with Tantric cosmology. Austere minimalist forms are overlaid with rampant patterning on 150-year-old paper. Camels float in space and topiary sheep nibble topiary crucifixes.
The works can be sensually compelling and simultaneously awkward and unnerving. Whilst some paintings are embedded with irony and humour, others vacillate between the mythical and banal, the mysterious and the everyday. The results are idiosyncratic gems that shine and glow.” Joost van den Bergh
Alexander Gorlizki / Curriculum Vitae
1967 born in London/ UK
1994 MFA in Sculpture, Slade School, London/ UK
1992 B.A. Hons Fine Art, Bristol Polytechnic/ UK
1991 Foundation Course in Art and Design, Bristol Polytechnic/ UK
Currently lives and works in New York/ USA.
2017 Pink City Studio Beyond Malabar Gallery, Kochi/ IN
2016 Subtle Bodies, Saucy Lines, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne/ D
2015-2016 Variable Dimensions, Crow Collection, Dallas/ USA
2015 Special Presentation, Van Doren Waxter, New York/ USA
2014 We Are One, Galerie Eric Mouchet, Paris/ F
What Gives?, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen/ USA
2013 Are We There Yet?, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne/ D
For Immediate Release, Van Doren Waxter, New York/ USA
2012 We Like It Here, We’re Not Moving, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai/ IN
2011 Terms and Conditions Apply, Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne/ D
2010 The First Time I Heard You Blink, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York/ USA
Pre-existing conditions, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco/ USA
2009 Appointments & Disappointments, Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne/ D
Soft Succulent Sublime, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles/ USA
2008 Lunchmeat on my Pantsuit, Gallery Joe, Philadelphia/ USA
What grows here?, Joost van den Bergh Gallery, London/ UK
Gallery Joe, Philadelphia/ USA
Alexander Gorlizki & Indian Spells, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh/ UK
Strange you can believe in, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles/ USA
2007 Works on Paper, Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne/ D
2006 Pipedreams, collaboration with Riyaz Uddin, Joost van Bergh Gallery, London/ UK
2004 Plastic Mystic, Huddersfield City Art Gallery/ UK
Genuine Fake, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
Out of This World, collaboration with Riyaz Uddin, Ben Jannsen Gallery, London/ UK
2003 Classroom, PS122 Project Space, New York/ USA
Breathless, in Collaboration with Riyaz Uddin. Ben Jannsen Gallery, London/ UK
North Sea Circle – Viewer’s Cut, in collaboration with Richard Coldman, Globe Gallery, North Shields/ UK
2000 Introspektive, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
Import/ Export, Vilma Gold Gallery, London/ UK
1999 Seven (Unknown) Famous Belgians, De Chiara/ Stewart Gallery, New York/ USA
1997 Alexander Gorlizki Collection, RAU, London/ UK
1995 24 Crucifix Lane, Bermondsey, London/ UK
2017 Washington 186, Aeroplastics Brussels/ B
Thinking Tantra, curated by Rebecca Heald, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth/ US
Zeichnung 17, Michael Sturm Gallery, Stuttgart / D
Drawing Biennial 2017, The Drawing Room, London/ UK
2016 LIMINAL LYRICS, curated by Hedwig Brouckaert, KUNSTRAUM Gallery, Brooklyn, NY/ USA
Thinking Tantra, The Drawing Room, London/ UK
Traversing Traditions/India, curated by Kathryn Myers, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford, CT/ USA
Le Contemporaine Dessiné, Musée des Artes Décoratifs, Paris/ F
2015 Hoogtepunten uit de collectie, Museum de Buitenplaats, Eelde/ NL
2013 40 Years At The Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Ambach and Rice, Los Angeles/ USA
Considering Collage, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai/ IN
Approaching Infinity: The Richard Green Collection of Meticulous Abstraction,
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento/ USA
2012 Bear Necessities, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco/ USA
Embellised Reality: Indian Painted Photographs, Royal Ontario Museum/ CAN
Walking the Line IV, Galerie Martin Kudlek, Cologne/ D
2011 Espaces de destins – espèces de dessins, Le Dix-neuf, CRAC Montbéliard/ F
Walking the Line III, Kudlek van der Grinten, Cologne/ D
Watching Me Watching You, Denver ARt Museum, Denver/ USA
The Art of Giving, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco/ USA
2010 Walking the line II, Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne/ D
Bestiary, The Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY,
curated by Sally Morgan Lehman, Liz Parks, Sally Zunino, New York/ USA
2009 Drawing, Valerie McKenzie Fine Art, New York/ USA
On Paper, Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris/ F
Another Damned Drawing Show, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles/ USA
2008 Conversations, Kettles Yard, Cambrige/ UK
Newfangled Licks, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington/ USA
Wir für Euch, Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne/ D
Walking the line, Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie, Cologne/ D
It‘s Gouache and Gouache only, Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York/ USA
2007 Timothy Taylor Gallery, London/ UK
2006 The next Doing, Geoffrey Young Gallery, New Barrington/ USA
Table Top, Josee Bienvenu Gallery, New York/ USA
Fine Line, Adam Baumgold Gallery, New York/ USA
2005 Drawings, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
2004 Project Artists, PS122 Studios, New York/ USA
2001 Drawings, Curated by Shirley Morales, De Chiara Gallery, New York/ USA
The Globe, Kunstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis, Bregenz/ A
DarkLight, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
2000 Where Have All The People Gone?, De Chiara/ Stewart Gallery, New York/ USA
Drawings, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
1999 RWA Sculpture Triennial, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol/ UK
Father Apollinaris Said, Curated by Adrian George. Vilma Gold Gallery, London/ UK
1998 Absolut Cobblers, The Concourse Gallery, Barbican Centre, London/ UK
2002 Restless Spirits, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
2001 DarkLight, Martin Kudlek Gallery, Cologne/ D
2011 Crow, Kelly, “At Armory, Fast Food, 3-D and Some New Big Guns,”
The Wall Street Journal, Saturday / Sunday March 5-6, C14. (illus.)
Leigh, Bobbie, “Big Deals and Big Win at the Armory,” www.luxist.com, March 5 (illus.).
2010 The Millbrook Independent, “Wassaic Project’s Bestiary,” Wednesday, June 30.
Smith, Roberta, “Alexander Gorlizki: The First Time I Heard You Blink,”
The New York Times, April 29.
Baker, Kenneth, “Alexander Gorlizki echoes India at Berggruen,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 7.
2009 LA Times, “Revisiting the art of the minitature,” Friday, November 13, 2009.
2008 Smith, Roberta, “Fair Goes From Feast to Tasting Menu,” The New York Times, March 15.
2007 Eden, Laura, “Alexander Gorlizki,” Elle Décor, December.
Herbert, Martin, “Paper Baglady and Other Stories,” Time Out, London, July.
2000 “Kunst des Absurden,” Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, November 26.
Mattes, Steffan, Megacult.net.
Artist Newsletter, May, p.10.
Millennium Monument Magazine, September.
1996 Smith, Roberta, “Thaw,” New York Times, September 13, p. C 30.
Hornor, Dave, “At Art in General, ‘Thaw’ Follows in Footsteps of ‘Frieze.’”
The Tribeca Tribune, Nov. 2, p.28.
McClure, Lisa, Review Magazine, September 15, p. 28.
Vanishing Point, 2009.
What Grows Here?, exhibition catalogue, 2008.
Bart, Roland, The Globe Catalogue, 2007.
EG 2006 Conference Catalogue, 2006.
I Love You If You Love Me, Ed: 175, 2000.
The European Design Annual, 2000.
Seven (Unknown) Famous Belgians, in collaboration with Nick Eagleton, 1999.
Books by Artists, Ed. Sarah Bodman UWE, 1999.
RWA Sculpture Triennial Catalogue, 1999.
Fixture, exhibition catalogue, essay by Nick Eagleton, 1999.
Thaw, exhibition catalogue, essay by Laurie De Chiara, 1999.
Yori, Ed : 100, 1996.
And Other Drawings, Ed : 100, 1995.
Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, USA // Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, D // Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, CA // Victoria & Albert Museum, London, GB // Denver Art Museum, Denver, USA // Collection Antoine de Galbert, Paris, F // Artothèque Limousin, Limoges, F // Museum de Buitenplaats, Eelde NL
AWARDS AND RESIDENCIES
2003/2004 PS122 Studio Residency, New York
2003 The Classroom. PS122 New York
Duveen Travel Award for research in Pakistan, China & Tibet
Research funding for publication from U.W.E. Bristol
European Design Annual 5, 2000 – Certificate of Excellence