Alexander Reilly is a painter, and children writer based in Dublin, Ireland. In 2003, while studying at Dublin’s National College of Art & Design, Alexander became one of the founding members of Defastenism: Irelands first international art movement and the worlds second remodernist movement. He curated the first ever Defastenist show in Dublin. By 2004, Defastenism was the official sister movement of the London-based Stuckists. Alexander and the other artists engaged in a three-year exhibition tour that included shows in Dublin, Limerick, Galway, London, Paris and Berlin. Alexander resigned from Defastenism late in 2006. The movement disbanded shortly there after. He still exhibits regularly nationally and internationally.
Alexander spent from 2006 to 2011 living between London, India and Nepal. In India, he taught English to Tibetan ex political prisoners. He also gave classes in painting and creative writing to the inmates of the Central Jail in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. When he was not teaching his time was divided between painting and writing. Alexander researched his book: “The Maharajah, The Spy, The Giant and The Robot” while living in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It is set in the fictional Badera Market which is based on the Pink City in Jaipur. It is the first in a series. Every aspect of Indian life, history, culture, religion, etc. has been painstakingly checked and double checked for accuracy. Alexander wrote this book with a view to it being accessible to both western and Indian children. In 2013 Alexander worked as the artistic director of the Ranelagh art centre and art festival. Alexander´s approach to painting is a combination of technical skill and theme. His knowledge of paint and how it behaves on canvass is constantly expanding by a combination of trial and error and the viewing of work by other painters. But the subject matter, style, what is happening within the image, is rarely if ever influenced by the work of painters. His main influences are found within other art forms: film, music, literature, retro arcade games and stand up comedy. He purposely takes this approach so that his work will be unique and unlike the paintings of other artists. Alexander believes that like comedians or film makers he too is in the entertainment business. He endeavours to direct his characters with the paint brush in the hope of sparking stories within the imagination of the viewer. He avoids answering questions like: “what is this painting about?” because he prefers the viewer to arrive at their own conclusion, to use their own imagination.
“Some people like to romanticise the life of an artist, I don’t. In fact I often romanticise a life of not being an artist. I failed in my many attempts not to paint. I’ve been a fisherman, a builder, an aid worker, a factory worker, a curator, an artistic director, a beach lifeguard, an art teacher, a gardener, a gallery owner and a bunch of other things. I think it’s completely true to state that I am addicted to applying oil paint to canvas. Painting is not something I do for an hour here or there, I don’t get lost wondering what Ill paint next. To me its like a computer game I can’t stop playing. I often stay up for days on end, brush in hand trying to get to the next level. Creating my own little worlds with oil on canvas is my drug of choice. I was the child constantly drawing and painting, my adult life has just been a continuation of that childhood obsession. I have a queue of paintings in my head I’ll never have time to paint.
I don’t relate to most other painters. I find it hard to answer questions like: what style do you paint in? What inspires you? Who are your main influences? I think painting should be like music or comedy; it’s about finding your own voice. Every person is different so every artist’s work should look different. Inspiration as something external to be searched for, to me is a convenient excuse for not making work. Think of a small child that loves drawing, they’re not looking for inspiration, the images just flow out of them. It’s a language of visual communication that gives us glimpses into their inner worlds. If I were going to give one piece of advice to someone who wanted to be a painter it would be: don’t stop working and you’ll never run out of things to paint. Work on the best idea you have at the time. When you paint a picture you can simply take the elements you think worked and use them as the starting point for the next piece.
It might seem obvious but an artist can paint anything he or she wants, anything that exists in the world and in the imagination. I continually study to increase my knowledge of how paint behaves when mixed and when applied to canvas. Usually when I examine other painter’s work I’m looking at technique rather than subject matter. I’m an artist expressing my own life not somebody else’s”
For a list of past shows and media or to arrange a studio visit please feel free to call or email anytime.