Illusions in Progress: The Paintings of Alexa Meade

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Watch celebrated artist Alexa Meade transform a three-dimensional set into a seemingly two-dimensional tableau in preparation for her live painting performance at After Dark: Illusions on Thursday, August 6, 2015.

Reversing the tradition of trompe l’oeil, the Renaissance painting technique in which objects appear real, Alexa Meade painstakingly applies acrylic paint onto actual people and objects, creating illusions of seamless, two-dimensional portraits. Unified by bold brushwork reminiscent of mid-20th-century painting styles, her subjects appear flattened, as if painted on canvas, even when viewed from different angles. Meade’s work invites a deep exploration into the nature of perception, the role of photography in viewing ephemeral artworks, and the sudden intimacy of portraiture.

In advance of painting live models, Meade and her assistants spend up to 40 hours preparing the set, painting backdrops, clothes, and props. If you are visiting the Exploratorium on Tuesday or Wednesday, August 4 and 5, be sure to stop by the Webcast Studio to view her unique illusions in progress. The artist will be available intermittently each day to answer questions and discuss her work.

Alexa Meade’s living paintings have been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The Saatchi Gallery in London, and the Pinacotheque Museum in Paris. She will complete her one-of-a-kind, temporary artwork during After Dark: Illusions. See her painting in action on Thursday, August 6, or check out the finished piece on our Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook feeds.

Exploratorium, Pier 15, Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Included with museum admission.

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