Alexander Eulert’s story speaks for itself. He is intensely passionate about his craft, which only becomes more apparent upon seeing the fruits of his labor — bold, detailed, geometric compositions that put the balance of man and nature into question. End your summer on a high note with this week’s Artist You Need to Know.
V: Why do you do what you do?
A: Because it is an outlet for my more complex thoughts and emotions; because it gives me autonomy to choose how I live my life; because it gives me an audience with which I can interact and exchange ideas; because every day is a new challenge and a new possibility; because I feel I am contributing to the world and, finally, because making art is inextricably intertwined with my identity.
V: Did you always want to be an artist?
A: Yes, I never imagined being anything else.
V: Can you elaborate on the impact the year 2007 had on your career as an artist?
A:Well, it might sound clichéd, but the 2007 wildfires that destroyed my home and studio both burnt me to the ground and made me rise like a phoenix. Having lost literally everything I had every owned, other than the clothes on me and the car I drove off in, I became very particular about what objects to welcome back into my life. My art became more and more minimalist and controlled. At the same time, having lost all my metalwork equipment, I tried my hand in painting and that changed my whole direction.
My paintings reflect both my interests in design, metalwork and painting and the history of those wildfires. The landscape around what used to be my home, in the aftermath of the fire, was laden with charred remnants of both natural and human life, and there was an eerie juxtaposition between the obvious death and decay at the surface of it all, and the pulsating life beneath the destruction, ready to burst through to another cycle. The first rains brought forth bright green shoots from those burned, seemingly petrified bushes. I think I unconsciously imprint my works with this tension of opposites, this interplay between the rough, distressed and imperfect, and the glistening, immaculate and gem-like.
After the fires I became more expressive and intense—which is reflected in most of my current work’s bold colors and abstractedly narrative linemanship. I also became more disciplined and focused. I took up intense Muay-Thai training and set myself a rigorous schedule at the studio. The move to Santa Fe in 2012 was crucial for my success, as I established an ample enough studio space, away from distractions, to begin focusing on the type of pieces I make nowadays. It was there, after being primed for years, that I discovered my current metal leaf and latex technique. My work became even more refined and cohesive.
I don’t think I’d have grown as fast as a person or as an artist if I had not had gone through that horrible experience in 2007.
V: How does the theme of man and nature manifest in your work?
A:My interest in ancient civilizations, land management and nature is reflected, in an abstracted manner, in all my pieces. It is in the confluence of man and nature that I find most inspiration. The first place where one could observe this theme is in my technique: I use man-extracted non-ferrous metal, which is a naturally occurring ore in parts of the Earth, and transform it through human creativity and acid-activated live organisms into polished surfaces that appear like rock, water, sky, crops, and other natural elements—as well as buildings, artifacts, roads, and other human makings.
The second place one could observe the manifestation of both man and nature in my work is in the themes represented: fields (both wild and managed); deserts, both their natural and human treasures; lakes, and submerged artifacts transformed through natural patinas with the passage of time; bales of hay in ancient villages; floating lotus leaves with encrusted, glimmering gems in their core; colorful rock formations that could also be seen as ancient monoliths.
In many occasions, the finished work might end up looking both like stone or rock and metal or something man-made. In addition, there are certain mathematical patterns that appear in nature that spontaneously make their way into my art. A lot of my work has the aesthetics of an (somehow sleek) ancient artifact taken over by that process of natural decay that turns non-ferrous metals into those beautiful verdigris patinas.
V: Your linear works vs. those with more natural shapes are very different, yet somehow cohesive—what do you think ties them together?
A: The textures, transparencies and color ranges are similar—and the technique, which is so unique to my work, is the same– in both my more geometrical/ linear and my more organic kind of work. There are motifs that recur in both, and the linemanship is also very distinctive and common to both types of pieces. The themes are similar, they are both abstract and highly projective and they also share the same level of detail and interest.
V: How has being an artist impacted your life in ways you did not expect?
A: One of the things I certainly did not expect from this career is the amount of bureaucracy involved and how the contemporary scene expects artists to be business people while still having time to create in our studios. To me, it’s been a challenge to switch back and forth between business mode and studio mode. We’re expected to at least keep updated websites, and strongly encouraged to sell ourselves in social media. All these things distract me from what I should be doing, which is to be making awesome artwork in my studio.
V: How would you describe your artwork to someone who could not see it?
A: I make high-end abstract expressionistic, sleek paintings using a unique technique that I developed with acrylics, latex and metal leaf on board. The themes deal with issues of humans and nature, in abstracted propositions of worlds that beam with bold colors and emotion while still being harmonious and meditative.
V: Describe the current state of your studio in one word:
V: If you could have your work hanging anywhere in the world, where would that be?
A: The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
V: What is the singular most important thing you’d like your work to convey, if anything?
A: Whatever the audience needs to take in or process at the moment they contemplate my piece.
V: Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what 5-10 songs would we catch you listening to?
A: I listen to many kinds of music in the studio, most of it being raw and simple rock and roll or blues like Little Walter’s Blue and Lonesome. I also like cheesy 70’s and 80’s rock ballads like Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of The Heart. Some alternative, like The Daily Mail by Radiohead, or Gothy/ New Wave stuff like Ceremony by New Order (or Joy Division). I find that I need a lot of variety, spending so much time in the studio, it’s like a form of fuel; I try and keep it interesting.
Check out the Studio Mixtape on Spotify to get the full studio vibe.
In the meantime, Alex isn’t done creating and we’re not done being fans. Follow Alexander Eulert on Vango to see when he adds new work and watch his career grow.