Alex Israel: Always On My Mind review

Art
2 out of 5 stars
Alex Israel: Always On My Mind review
Alex Israel 'Always On My Mind' installation view. 2020. © the artist. Photo: Lucy Dawkins. Image courtesy of Gagosian

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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Alex Israel isn’t an artist, he’s a brand. He’s the conclusion of all those artist-as-celebrity, art-as-business ideas we’ve been wading through since Warhol. He’s a selling point, a personality, an assemblage of symbols and signifiers to be sold and traded. The problem is, he’s not that great at it.

This show is made up entirely of his face, or at least the silhouette of his face. The centre of each visage-shaped canvas holds a perfectly executed photorealist painting. Some show sweeping LA hills, others show Californian funfairs and cinemas, or Israel himself holding a monkey or looking out of the window of a helicopter in his own-brand sunglasses.

He’s toying with ideas of who the viewer is (him? Me? You? Everyone?) and messing with the building blocks of the self (the places we inhabit, the things we present), all filtered through the prism of brand Israel: his face, his profile, his silhouette, his sunglasses.

But for something so knowing, it somehow manages to be totally un-self-aware; for something so silly, it manages to be totally humourless; and for an exercise in the marketing of brand Alex Israel, it could do with some heavy conceptual copyediting.

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