Peter Alexander, part of the Light and Space movement beginning in the 1960s, first became well-known for his resin sculptures. Interestingly, Alexander began his career as an architect. He was drawn to the newly developed plastic resins, however, and pursued this interest into the art world. Alexander ceased working with resin, which is highly toxic, after developing health issues, and translated his exploration of light and space into paint and lithography. In his two-dimensional artworks, Alexander depicts cityscapes, highlighting the city’s lights and atmospheric effects.
In Thrasher, a luminous nighttime city view of Los Angeles is contrasted with the red afterglow of sunlight that expands dynamically in the dark sky. The glowing, foreshortened cityscape is sketched out with dots of bright fluorescent colors representing rows of street lights. On the horizon, the viewer may recognize the distinctive silhouettes of skyscrapers in two of Los Angeles’s city centers, Downtown and Century City. The title of this artwork refers to another notable area of Los Angeles—Birdland, in which the streets are named for birds, like that which lends its name to this painting, Thrasher Ave. The bright lime greens, oranges, and yellows of the city are concentrated in the bottom quarter of the canvas with the rest occupied by the evocative traces of Los Angeles’s famous sunset. The energetic brushwork of the sky contrasts the carefully placed dots of the city lights and evokes a sense of active atmosphere and potential danger; is this brilliant red only the sunset, or is it wildfires or riots? Juxtaposing two different styles of brush work, types of space, and artificial and natural light, Alexander creates a rich and vibrant bird’s eye view of Los Angeles at night.
Artist: Peter Alexander
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimension: 48 x 84 in. (121.92 x 213.36 cm)
Collection: The Buck Collection at the UCI Institute and Museum for California Art
Copyright: © 2018, Peter Alexander