Mardi de Veuve Alexis: Abstraction as Perfection

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According to abstract artist Mardi de Veuve Alexis, her art “often evolves from an emotional response I have to current events and the human condition.” Using patterns and texture in works of mixed media and collage, Alexis creates intricately layered themes and palettes that burst with shape; as tactile as they are transformational.

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Born and raised in California, Alexis studied art and design at UCLA, and has been painting for more than a decade. Exhibiting and traveling internationally, she’s found “the freedom to express without judgment or boundaries. Thoughts and ideas spill out on canvas, panel, or paper as drawings, layered patterns, shapes, colors and textures that are merged, transformed and energized with paint, papers, mylar and other elements.”

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Her work is often a study in contrasts. Witness her recent “After the Earthquake,” a mixed media collage in which houses, boats, and humans float in delicate drawings riven by thick black and brown sinewy lines. Thinner lines that look like a tangle of electric wires also emerge from the contrast of curved and harsh shapes. While everything is askew, it is also transformed, there is a grace in the chaos.

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Such peace in the middle of change appears often in Alexis’ work. Her “Santa Fe Cool” is an example. It uses more pastel shades and plays like visual jazz, blossoming from patterns of pale lime green, pink, and a splash of bright magenta. Curves that could be human forms, thin black lines, and above all else, a vibrating energy reminds the viewer of puzzle pieces coalescing. However, the predominant feeling is one of serenity in the midst of change.

“I love working with contrasting as well as complementary textures and patterns by combining various materials in my work, both organic and man-made,” Alexis says. “ Irregular lines and remnants of ripped paper or newsprint, fabric, tree bark and the coarse hairs of a palm tree become exciting designs and focal points – their beauty recast. Even those irregular globular shapes from thickly dried acrylic have become abstract elements on their own accord.”

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Her “Cocoon” looks like a butterfly about to explode its boundaries. Bright aqua, amber, and a rich black divide what could be stained glass, feathers or butterfly wings, something about to ripen, about to be birthed. There is the tension of waiting, of a happening, of a precipice about to be crossed, but again there is a sense of stillness.

“I’m inspired by nature and diverse cultures. Human emotion, expressions of joy, sadness and despair capture my attention and are often revealed in my work,” Alexis explains.

The artist’s current works are created on canvas, panel, and paper, with collage elements adding an extra layer of depth and exploration to her images.

One of the most interesting aspects of Alexis’ work is a feeling of vibration emanating from them. As already mentioned, some remind the viewer of visualized jazz, or of the calm and craziness of giving birth, gestation, tumult and transcendence.

Working with acrylic, charcoal and mixed media, Alexis defines her work in shapes, lines, patterns, and palette.

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Feel the hum of power and persistence in “Pecking Order,” in which a bird with a red wing on the right of the work is poised before a jungle of black, aqua, and red. Within that jungle are forms that could be the clenched fingers of a human hand, a portal to another dimension, an open window, a closing door. These abstract shapes pull the eye from the otherwise dominant bird into the void, into a promise of meaning. Is the bird trying to get in, to get out, to crack the shell that contains existence itself?

Many of Alexis’ works incorporate animal or human shapes, almost totemic figures; there’s a swirl inside of which an unseen meaning spins, circling in and out of the viewer’s vision, something magical and captured almost at the edge of understanding.

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The shapes are more defined and geometric in Alexis’ “Behind the Scenes,” where circles, triangles, and squares float through what could be a world inside our own world in this acrylic and collage work on wood panel.

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“My new body of work is inspired by an evolving local urban environment, urbanization as a condition, and contemporary culture,” Alexis says. “There is the noise and energy of new construction. Resulting structures are rising vertically to unexpected new heights, marginalizing once amply sun lit creative spaces. Graffiti of all shapes and sizes most often depicted on the grey backdrop of concrete has become rampant as an exciting urban art form communicating an evolving cultural diversity. This is change and evolution, disturbing and exciting at the same time.”

Disturbing and exciting could also describe the artist’s own work. See for yourself: viewers are compelled to study, assess, and in the end simply succumb to the inchoate pull of Alexis’ art.

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