Alex Dodge is pushing the future of painting. His signature raised patterns of oil paint are digitally sketched using 3D design software before landing on traditional canvas using laser-cut stencils and airbrushed backgrounds.
His new paintings are currently on view at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York and continue to break new ground in digital tools, hand-craftsmanship, and a passion for material and process. I met Alex in the gallery to take a deep dive into the process.
I asked Alex about the computer programs he prefers – an arsenal of software borrowed from multiple industries, as layered as his finished paintings:
The intermediate stage in my work involves working between a range of different modeling and simulation software. Character modeling, rigging, and animation is done mostly in Maya, 3D Studio, or Blender, but the majority of my work recently happens in CLO 3D or Marvelous Designer for garment design and simulation. A lot of the tools I use are often employed in game development. Recent developments in GPU acceleration have made it a lot easier to do the physics simulations necessary for these paintings.
Look closer. The human figures may not actually exist beyond the clothing. He calls these invisible ghost-like bodies “Autonomous Drones”.
The paint itself is the real star. When satisfied with the computer image, Dodge translates his creation back into the real world by laser-cutting large stencils to apply thick paint in small sections by hand. Multiple colors are used on a single full-image stencil. Only two or three stencils are used in total to achieve various layers of depth.
In addition to the stencil technique, the crumbled images of newspapers (below) are “printed” into wet paint. In Alex’s own words: it’s “a form of relief printing with oil paint. The full color areas use a process or CMYK method with multiple blocks.”
The airbrushed blue backgrounds are inspired by a Japanese technique called “Bokashi” used in traditional woodblock prints. Dodge lives and works between New York and Japan, and learned from traditional Ukiyo-e masters at the Adachi Hanga workshop.
Alex Dodge’s new paintings, including multiple appearances by “Kyax” (above) are on view at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery through October 17th, 2020. Appointments are highly recommended through the gallery website to ensure proper social distancing.
Installation images photographed by Heidi Bohnenkamp, courtesy Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, NY
Individual works and details photographed by Jason Wyche, courtesy the artist and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, NY