Cirrus Gallery & Cirrus Editions, Ltd. is pleased to present Light in Place, an exhibition of Peter Alexander’s sunset lithographs, pastels and paintings from the 1970s-1990s and his iconic Los Angeles prints of television screen advertisements, palm trees, and cityscapes. Together, the works show unique variations of how Alexander incorporated light in works on paper. The exhibition is the second in a yearlong series that celebrates Cirrus gallery & Cirrus Editions LTD 50th anniversary and honors the life of Peter Alexander who passed earlier this year.
Whether place is a product of perception or if seeing follows what was always already there, is rooted in an understanding of light. Seeing, or rather watching, the various manifestations of light in an almost voyeuristic manner drew Alexander to using light as a medium and subject matter of his work. Renowned for his resin sculptures that blur the distinction between object and environment and his association with Light and Space movement and West Coast minimalism of the 1960s, Alexander turned to painting in the 1970s.
Los Angeles was Alexander’s muse. Intertwining art and life, his work is a direct response to his experience of place. About his home in Tuna Canyon he said: “Every day I would see these incredible sunsets. So I thought, well, something could be done with that.” And thus he began to make pastels of sunsets in the early 1970s, which were later used to create lithographs in collaboration with Cirrus Editions, Ltd, and which continued to be developed in paintings on black velvet.
Aware of the cliché of the subject matter—sunsets, palm trees—and materials—velvet— Alexander honed in on their platitude incorporating glitter, sultry colors and combined print techniques which contributed to the simplicity and brilliance of the work. Behind the emblematic images were autobiographical references. The feeling the light evoked constituted a place. Although he had lived and travelled elsewhere, Alexander could not imagine being somewhere of than Los Angeles. “[It had] nothing to do with home. It had to do with the ocean. It had to do with the climate. It had to do with the drive-ins.”
Light in Place considers light’s texture and invisibility in various mediums and how it changes the physicality and one’s perception of a locale. Following Cathryn Vasselue’s analyses of light, the light in the works on view can be seen as “both the language and material of visual practices; or the invisible interweaving of differences which form the fabric of the visible,” asking us to follow our eye.
Peter Alexander (1939-2020) was an artists in Los Angeles known for Alexander’s work is exhibited internationally and is collected by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.