“The characters come to me, the way novelists do. They show up and tell me who they are.” – Alexandra Dillon

Alexandra Dillon, a Los Angeles based surrealist artist, is unique in her ability to conjure life into found objects through the styles of traditional European painting. An artist since childhood, she describes the entire process as self-soothing, and that her life would be dull without the passion for art. “It’s what makes me tick,” says Dillon.

The personas of her work embody the zeitgeist of the Old Master painting era, a passion Dillon studied in Florence after receiving her B.A. in filmmaking from UCLA. Among the objects Dillon commonly works with: the ax, paintbrush, lock – items often viewed in the realm of masculinity, the artist personifies them with new feminine life, altering the narrative of aversion to female anger, intellect, and agency, as she describes.
“A woman’s eyes, painted on an old ax, or a soft Baroque face on a circular saw blade,
also create linguistical puns: “that old battle-ax”, “a sharp mind”, “hatchet face” et all. We are forced to question our expectations of what a lovely face represents, both historically, and today.”

A single eye or set of eyes piercing back at the viewer are a constant in Dillon’s paintings. Characters are manifested and ensconced in the objects but evolve a life of their own, reflecting Dillon’s own curiosity towards the inner realms of personal psychologies. They personify to the extent that the object is no longer a paintbrush with a face painted upon it but rather a seeing face, living through a rigid surface.

From conceptualizing to finalizing her art pieces, Dillon describes never beginning with a fixed idea or desired outcome. “I usually have an inkling of what the piece may be like, but I let the found object take the lead. Sometimes I will re-paint the face many, many times until I achieve the character. The characters come to me, the way novelists do. They show up and tell me who they are.”

Dillon has also worked with gloves and dresses, painting portraits of women in her popular Baroque style. In a series intended to depict a soft armor both expressing and disguising a hidden vulnerability. These pieces were viewed in Dress Rehearsal at the Oceanside Museum of Art in Oceanside, California. Dillon is currently an artist in residence at the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, California, and continues to share with the world her pieces via social media, which clearly deliver their intended message even on a small screen.

All artworks by Alexandra Dillon.
Curated and written by Romina Bertetti.

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