David T. Alexander RCA : Press

"Gallery Going - David Alexander"
Source: The Globe & Mail
Published: 05/08/2004
Author: Gary Michael Dault

Much of the pleasure generated by this handsome exhibition of stirring new paintings by veteran landscape painter David Alexander lies in the artist's virtuoso control over his brush and his medium.

What is so exhilarating about the paintings is the way the Kelowna, B.C., artist can simultaneously make convincing the reality of the scene before him--the scintillating surface of a dark pool or the coruscations of a gnarled tree trunk --and make manifest, at the same time, the highly abstract dazzle of the visual information that makes up what we see. In painting after painting, a highly believable naturalism contends with a rugged, vigorous abstracting of the components of the scene. In the glorious The Perfect Pond, for example, what is clearly a golden, butterscotch-hued pond in the woods, its deep, shadowy still waters the colour of honey and old bronze, the painting's surface both coalesces as vista and, at the same time, breaks down into a hundred exquisitely painted passages where you get to glory in the grandeur of pigment itself. The mystery is how Alexander can paint, say, a big smear of pink with white and yellow vectors of painted energy starting up from it --and have this same pink smear then settle back down into its proper place as a part of the painting's pool-ness. And the thing is, so tightly woven are these impulses both to realism and to abstraction, that you never get to settle fully into either mode. Even in a beautiful, hectic painting like the cunningly titled Scratch the Liquid Surface or the remarkable Bright Blue Water, both of which approach ecstatically close to "pure" abstraction, you are never released fully from the two-way grip within which each painting lives and fulminates.