Alex Ball (b. 1985, Northampton, UK) is a painter-printmaker who explores the perceptual zone between the optical and the tactile, the eye and the hand. The initial quality of his work, either in paint or print, is of a flat, two-dimensional surface. Yet by taking his subjects from the world of manufactured objects, Alex nudges the viewer into a state of ambivalence. Thrown between a tactile, textural perception of the represented object, and a purely optical perception of the image, the viewer’s experience takes on a haptic quality. The images incite us to engage our bodily imagination with respect to the represented object: to alternately hold its weight, feel its texture, or mould its contours. A series of carefully appropriated or constructed images constitutes the subject matter of Alex’s prints. From his personal archive, Alex selects found images, which range from a man holding soft vinyl, to macaroni drying from the ceiling of a pasta factory, or a woman fitting a window into its frame. In other work, Alex begins by creating the object in his studio – for example by folding paper, or hand-moulding clay or wax – before photographing the object and carefully realising the final image as a photopolymer print or screenprint.
While Alex’s practice is founded on literary allusions and a close study of art history – Dürer, Mantegna, and Grünewald among others – his work privileges form over symbolism. The objects depicted, often absurd and ambiguous, preclude the viewer from coming to any easy conclusions about their meaning. The images’ resistance to categorization opens a clearing to the subtle power and serene confidence of these works. Alex’s concerns do not depend on a primary medium. Consequently his printmaking informs his painting as much as vice versa, and are often exhibited alongside each other.
Alex graduated from the Slade in 2012 (MA Painting), after completing a BA Fine Art at Central St Martins in 2007.
Alex lives and works in Berlin.