Artist Profile: Daniel Blackball Alexander
Written by Joel Thomas for Art Ache by Candlelight, Dunedin.
21st June 2018.
The crunchy colours of autumn leaves set the tone for Daniel ‘Blackball’ Alexander’s work which often depicts people as they navigate the outside forces of surreal spaces with resilience and elegance.
We see eyes beaming down on the figures, hands reaching from nowhere. A man climbs up a ladder out of the darkness and into a lush garden, another man’s wheelchair has been stolen by an arcade-style claw yet he has fallen with grace and style.
Daniel ‘Blackball’ Alexander works from a Dunedin attic, where he also co-runs the artist space and cassette label The Attic, a label which features artists such as Anthonie Tonnon and Lucy Hunter. Alexander’s work has been featured on gig posters, record covers, runways, beer bottles, as well as by the publications Critic, Te Arohi, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Wired Italia. Currently, he is the creative director for the microbrewery New New New.
Alexander was born in Dunedin, raised in Nelson and studied design communication at the Otago Polytechnic School of Design, though he says due to its minor role in the curriculum, his illustration skills are largely self-taught. Alexander works broadly with illustration, collage, and video and even though he’s drawn to Bauhaus and De Stijl movements he wants to draw from whatever he can for his projects.
‘It’s important to me to not put anyone project in one basket. I’m always interested in and attracted to projects that can bring together and merge design, typography, art, and illustration, regardless of whether its a personal project, an editorial piece, or something for a corporate client.’
A striking example of Alexander’s work is the illustration Lemon Hand, which was made when he worked at Critic magazine. The work features a hand reaching for a very small lemon, tucked away in the corner of a plate. The hand literally fades away into the rusty background. This was an illustration for an article about lemon detox diets. Lemon Hand shows Alexander’s ability to squeeze emotion and feeling into his depictions of a simple action.
‘I do remember being bemused at how ridiculous and over the top it was’ – Daniel Alexander.
Daniel ‘Blackball’ Alexander shows the absurdity of our navigation through modern spaces with clever and bold illustration, he also reminds us that we can attempt to push through these spaces with grace, by slapping on a nice thick corduroy coat to fight the off cold.
Artist: Daniel Blackball-Alexander
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