Alexandra Dillon is a Los Angeles-based surrealistic painter who creates art on found objects. Her love of Old Master painting led her to study classical realism in Florence, Italy. Dillon paints imagined portraits on worn out paint brushes and other common objects that people have thrown away. These small paintings reflect unique personalities. 1
Dillon told Bored Panda, "My characters come to me the way [they do to] novelists," "they show up and tell me who they are." ... "I never quite know who will show up," Dillon said. She allows the "soul" of a particular object to "shape" its face. 2
"I work on each piece over the course of several days," Dillon said. "They often change and grow into themselves more fully. When I have found the emotion and personality of a character, I know I'm finished."
The artist said she loves making these small portraits. "It's like meeting a new friend every day. I get to paint faces and conjure character in a way that is more fun than just working on a canvas."2
Most of these portraits are of women. They engage the viewer with their penetrating gazes, and challenge the notion of self-effacement as female protocol. They are thoroughly feminine, yet radiantly self-possessed. The men too, exude a sense of self, and seen as a group, speak to the shared experience of being human, yet, distinct, and in charge of our own destinies.1
Faces, or pieces of faces, painted onto old tools, such as axes, cleavers and locks create juxtapositions that illicit new readings of femaleness. These hard items, traditionally in the realm of the male, paired with the fleshy softness of the feminine, conjure paradoxes that confront our aversion to female anger, intellect and agency. 1
A woman’s eyes, painted on an old axe, or a soft, Baroque face on a circular saw blade, also create linguistic puns: “that old battle axe”, “a sharp mind”, “hatchet face” et al. We are forced to question our expectations of what a lovely face represents, both currently and historically.1
Dillon also ponders the inner realms of personal psychologies. A cleaver, painted with a screaming face, appears both terrifying, and terrified of its own action. Hidden agendas, fear and aggression become the subtext for many of her works, yet strangely, the subtle humour, with which they are painted, attests to a sense of hope. 1
Exploring the connection between the clothes and the wearer, Dillon inverts the relationship by painting portraits of women on the dresses themselves. 3
Dillon identified two aspects to her success as an artist. "The first, is that I let myself make the art I truly wanted to make, not something that I thought would sell in the marketplace. My work is different than what I see at art fairs and galleries. I used to think that might be a hindrance to my success, but in fact, its been just the opposite. People appreciate the originality and authenticity of my paintings." 3
The second road to success, was getting my work out there on social media, sending out press releases, and having a strong website and functioning online shop. When my brush portraits went viral on the web, I was ready! While I still work with galleries sometimes, I believe that artists have the ability to form their own careers. 3*
In today's post, I will leave you with a tribute from Dillon who posted this on her Facebook page in April 2020. "Thank you to all the brave souls on the front lines, staffing our hospitals, markets and other essential businesses."
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