new work: by Alex Chaves

Martos Gallery is pleased to present a new body of work by LA-based artist Alex Chaves.


Chaves’ work challenges conventional notions of time and narrative, collapsing cycles of history and image making on a single canvas. If previous bodies of work have drawn inspiration from earlier art historical movements - like the pastel palette of Picasso's Rose Period, or the stylized ornamentation of Art Deco - his latest paintings have ventured into the post-modern, evoking David Salle’s assemblage of seemingly unrelated images in diverse representational styles to reflect the “great destabilizing” of the current age.

Recurring motifs, such as night-lit skyscrapers, houndstooth patterns, and calligraphic florals serve as threads connecting multiple pieces while sparking diverse associations. 


In 'Marisa,' references to the nineteen-twenties’ indulgence and exuberance in the face of apocalyptic world events persist, expressed by the dramatic architecture in the upper-lefthand corner.  The subject of the portrait is depicted in a frank and affectionate manner, conveying a friendly intimacy with the sitter and set against a backdrop of illustrative poppies.


The flowers unleash a chain of associations - to the Wizard of Oz, a cornerstone of gay mythology - which is further alluded to in the rainbow border of 'Robertson Boulevard (Digital Bespoke)' and the rakish poses and carefully rendered outfits of the male manikins.  A fascination with textiles then extends into 'Money' and 'Houndstooth Flag,' exploring how patterns can signify wealth and power - from luxury apparel to heraldry and national flags - and how their meanings shift relative to context and time period.


The paintings convey a sense of irresolution between past and present; a constant re-processing in relation to lived experience, evolving interpretations of Western cultural touchstones, and the onslaught of content in the digital age.