“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso
Meeting Alex Puryear is like a brilliant breath of fresh air. Tall, stylish and humble, he paints as if he travelled through time and witnessed the birth of the universe. His work is a collision of everything; light and dark, good and evil, life and death. With themes ranging from redemption to universal connection, each piece is unquestionably personal to Puryear. So personal in fact, he incorporates elements of his own experiences and personality into all of his work. Be it a subtle symbol such as the allegory-laden lotus flower, to a more conspicuous self-portrait of a fedora adorned individual, Puryear’s literal influence hungers for outside interpretation.
Which is perfect for an artist that loves interaction as much as Alex. We took a few minutes to talk with Alex Puryear about his life, his work and his upcomming show at The Frame Shop Chicago on August 19th.
Q: Are you originally from Chicago?
Q: And what made you want to start painting?
Alex: It has always been a gift within me, I remember in grade school being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and my answer was an artist, and it has always been, the arts seem to flow in my family. But actual painting (brush to canvas) started around 1999.
Q: Do current events work their way into your images?
Alex: Not as much, I like to stay neutral in that matter, Once in a while I will test the waters, circa 2011-2012. I did a loose series around the concept of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I tried to show a surreal/expressionistic version of both sides.
Q: Your works seem to layer color with their meaning, who inspires you to work in this way?
Alex: Well, I believe that in time and practice an artist will find his/her own style, but in developing that unique style artists will sometimes borrow, or emulate others. I’m a student of that line of thought, artist like Matisse, Basquait, and Dali were and are some of my inspirational muses.
Q: Do you ever work large scale? Which do you prefer?
Alex: I have, and often times, do work in larger scale, but I still appreciate smaller scale pieces as well. I feel with larger scale pieces I’m able to expand and explore the direction of the piece, strokes are broader, but with smaller scale pieces the details really come into play.
Q: Any relation to Martin Puryear?
Alex: Yes, he’s a distant cousin, I admire his work.
Q: Besides painting do you practice any other artistic media?
Alex: I enjoy sketching, and drawing, they seem to always lead to a painting, outside of that I like to write.
Q: If you could show your work anywhere, where would that be?
Alex: That’s the million dollar question. I would definitely would like to break ground in Chicago first , The Art Institute, Museum Of Contemporary Art, work way my way across the states New York , California, Florida, and eventually Europe and Asia.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve been given to succeed in the art world?
Alex: KEEP AT IT. Not to give up on it, not every show is a success, that shouldn’t discourage you; it should make you (makes me) push forward and push harder. Also to know that every artist has his or her own audience, so keep displaying.
Q: How has social media changed your ability to promote yourself?
Alex: It’s definitely opened up my spectrum. Just by adding certain key words, a simple post can reach almost anyone. It can have a great deal of power and influence over those that sees it. I’m extremely active on social media. Follow me on Instagram – Puryear81, and Facebook –Alex Surrealist Art Puryear.
Q: Who is your artistic role model?
Alex: I’m fortunate to be supported and surrounded by creative people. I learn from friends and family and that’s what makes me a better person; that’s what will expand my journey as an artist.
Join us for Alex’s opening reception at The Frame Shop Chicago, 3520 S Morgan St on August 19th. Drinks and appetizers will be served from 7-9pm. The Esoteric Child runs through September.