Alex Couwenberg

Alex Couwenberg

Works

Biography

b. 1967, Upland, CA

Education
1997 MFA, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA
1995 BFA, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

Awards
2007 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant

He is a Southern California abstract painter deeply influenced by the art and culture of his local community. His artistic influences include the Light and Space Movement, as well as the work of Karl Benjamin, who was Couwenberg’s mentor. Couwenberg’s thin line patterns and choice of color are particularly inspired by surf and skateboard cultures, as well as the custom car and hot rod aesthetic elsewhere known as Finish Fetish. He is best known for combining hard-edge abstraction with gestural brushwork, layering, raw edges, and textured surfaces, thereby bringing depth and an expressionist touch to a tradition of painting known typically for its flatness.

2015
Connect and Collect: ICA’s Annual Art Exhibition and Auction, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
Mana in Naples, Art 1307 Villa Di Donato
Byways, Azusa Pacific University Galleries
LA | SF, Andrea Schwartz Gallery
2014
Permanent Collection, Laguna Art Museum
Halftone, Bruno David Gallery
The Artists of the Film MANA, Lancaster Museum of Art and History
OVERVIEW_2014, Bruno David Gallery
Inform/Form, Launch LA – La Brea
2013
crosscurrent, Andrea Schwartz Gallery
MAS ATTACK 2 – a meet-the-artist evening ONE NIGHT ONLY, Torrance Art Museum
GALLERY ARTISTS, Bruno David Gallery
2012
BLUE – WHITE – RED, Bruno David Gallery
Summer In South Park (Again), Andrea Schwartz Gallery
Smooth Operations: Substance and Surface in Southern California Art, Lancaster Museum of Art and History
Eglash Collection, Lancaster Museum of Art and History
Laguna Art Museum Benefit Auction, Laguna Art Museum
ALEX COUWENBERG & KARL BENJAMIN: Influence, Divergence & the Evolution of an Idea, William Turner Gallery
2011
Beacon Arts Presents
 TEL-ART-PHONE (Closing), Beacon Arts Building
TeL-ART-PHONE, Beacon Arts Building
Trajectory, David Richard Gallery
OAC’s Art for Awareness Charity Auction, Andi Campognone Projects
New Paintings, Andrea Schwartz Gallery
2010
KARL BENJAMIN: under the influence, Royale Projects
For Roland, 2010 Bunny Gunner
Line, Curve, Form, David Richard Gallery
Claremont Modernism Exhibition, OBJCT Gallery Claremont
New Paintings, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts – NY
2009
Alex Couwenberg: Waimea, Royale Projects
Los Angeles Currents, Couturier Gallery
le petit objet, Royale Projects
Rant, Pacific Design Center
Los Angeles Art Association’s Annual Benefit Auction, Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825
WEST/EAST: contemporary artists from the two coasts, Royale Projects
GEM 2009, Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825
Champagne Brunch with artist Alex Couwenberg at new home designed by William Krisel House, Krisel House Palm Springs
A Bit Left of All Right, William Turner Gallery
2008
Bypassing Referents, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts – NY
2007
William Glen Crooks, Alex Couwenberg, Peter Blake Gallery
Off the Grid, William Turner Gallery

Bibliography

Carasso, Roberta, Coast Magazine, “Colors, Shapes, and Light, October 2011
Walsh, Daniella, Riviera Magazine, Spring 2011
Davies, Stacy, “OC Weekly”, October 2011
Walters, Danielle, Beverly Hills Lifestyle, “Creating Balance”, Spring 2011
Roth, David, Square Cylinder, February, 2011
California Home and Design, “Left Coast Looks”, February, 2011
Dambrot, Shana Nys, “Flavorpill New York,” Alex Couwenberg, “New Paintings,” March 2010
Artdailey.org, Alex Couwenberg, “New Paintings,” March 2010
Zimmermann, Mark, Art: Theories and Provocations, March, 2010
Biller, Steven, Palm Springs Life, “Game On: The “Arcade Paintings”, November 2009
Nichols, Kimberly, Desert Magazine, “Art For Now”, November 2009
Melrod, George, Artltd., “Under the Radar,” May 2009
Myers, Holly, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2009
Harris, Freddie, Sun Valley Magazine, “Gallery Openings,” Winter 2008
California Home and Design, “Art and Antiques,” September 2008
Gay, Malcolm, Riverfront Times, “St. Louis Art Capsules,” May 20, 2008
Grossman, Emily, Art and Living, “The Straight Take”, March 20, 2008
The New York Sun, “Brother Culture” January 25, 2008
Biller, Steven, Palm Springs Life, “Critics Pick,” January, 2008
Davies, Stacy, IE Weekly, “Everything Old Is New Again,” January 17, 2008
Myers, Holly, Los Angeles Times, “Like 50’s lounge music, remixed,” August 17, 2007
Gleason, Mat, ArtScene, July/August 2007
Artdaily.org, July 2007
Tibbitz, Ashley, Flavorpill, July 17-23, 2007
ARTltd., “Pulse,” July 2007
Bossick, Karen, Wood River Journal, “Buzzer, Gilman Contemporary”, August 1, 2007
Carasso, Roberta, Coast Magazine, September, 2007
Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Grids Unlocked,” Art Pick of the Week, June 6, 2007
Jit Fong Chin, SqueezeOC, “Grey Matters”, January, 2007
Walsh, Daniella, Orange County Register, “Shades of Gray”, January 14, 2007
Carasso, Roberta, Laguna News Post, “Artwaves” January 4, 2007
Walsh, Daniella, Riviera Magazine, “The Radar Art” January, 2007
Rupe, Cynthia, SqueezeOC, Picks of the Week, January 4, 2007
Mckenna, John Page, Palm Springs Life, Winter/Spring 2007
Melrod, George, Art Ltd., “Culver City: Chelsea West?” October, 2006
Cripps, Mick, Lifescapes, “Artist Profile,” September, 2006
Allen, Bobbie, Coastline Pilot, “Seven Abstractionists for summer,” July 6, 2006
Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Art Pick of the Week,” October 2005
Muckenfuss, Mark, Press Enterprise, Riverside Museum Monothon Event, September, 2005
Simou, Alexandra, New York Sun, January 26, 2005
Kugelman, Kerry, Art Circles, fall 2004
Cullum, Jerry, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Review, August 29, 2004
Gilbert, Debora, Greenline, March, 2004
Gleason, Mat, Artscene, February, 2004
Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Art pick of the week,” February, 2004
Novick, La Rue, Daily Bulletin, February, 2004
Litz, Paige, Los Angeles Times, “Going Beneath the Surface,” October 10, 2003
Moyle, Andrew, 210 Magazine, October, 2003
Nelson, Harold, Director, Long Beach Museum of Art, Statement, 2002
Alfred, E. Anne, Asst. Director, Riverside Museum of Art, Statement, 2002
Dennison, Lisa, New American Paintings, vol. 37, 2001-02
Roth, Charlene, Artweek, “Alexander Couwenberg at Ruth Bachofner Gallery,” March, 2001
Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Art pick of the week,” January, 2001
Visiting Artist / Lecturer
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA
California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA
Paintings Edge, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA
Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
California State University Stanislaus, Turlock, CA
Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA
Millard Sheets Gallery, Pomona, CA

Video

ALEX COUWENBERG AND LISA BARTLESON : INFORM/FORM 

Film by Eric Minh Swenson. Music by Jon Wheeler.

LAUNCH LA is proud to present Inform/Form, a joint exhibition by Lisa Bartleson and Alex Couwenberg. Inform/Form features two artists, who despite their diverging techniques and motifs are united by their masterful use of color and an appreciation of Southern California’s rich abstract legacy.

Lisa Bartleson’s latest works, part of a series called ‘Gradient’, radiate an infinite and immersive depth. Composed of bio-resin saturated with natural pigments and then poured into forms, these cast pieces display little visual information besides the gradual transition from one shade of color into another. This simplicity however is precisely what makes Bartleson’s new work so memorable. She is the epitome of the Southern Californian ‘Light and Space’ ethos – her works give a sense of light without actual illumination and achieve a kind of depth with color that perspective and other tricks of the trade cannot hope to imitate. For Bartleson these images represent the light she experienced while growing up in Northern Washington, where the atmosphere was often filled with tiny water particles which refracted the sun’s rays to give off blankets of ambient light. Hoping to evoke a similar feeling she created absorptive surfaces that the viewer “looks into rather than through”. The final images are stirring and evocative without being didactic or prohibitive. These gradients could just as easily be a chunk of the planet’s atmosphere or even the progressively darker depths of our oceans – they could be poignant metaphorical devices or maybe – just man-made objects of pigment and resin. Bartleson, in any case, is a generous creator – she invites us to join in the act of creation.

Though Alex Couwenberg shares some of Bartleson’s influences, his paintings also contain traces of the wider cultural phenomena which make up ‘Californian’ identity – things like surfing, skateboarding, as well as West-Coast punk and hot-rods. His geometrical arrangements, built out of layers upon layers of paint, show his appreciation for the hard-edge school of painting and yet also capture some of the essence of the Californian sprawl that surrounds him. The long parallel lines of his surfaces seem like miniature boulevards stretching from the mountains to the sea and his boxy shapes are reminiscent of the utilitarianism found in L.A.’s Art Deco industrial districts. In homage to the ‘Finish Fetish’ movement of the ’60s and ’70s Couwenberg takes a great deal of time to create contrasting textures in his work, from surfaces sanded totally smooth to patches spackled on by pallet knife and run through with a broom to create deep ridges. The unique sense of order and co-relation in his shapes belies the intuitive processes that form them: often beginning only with a color palette in mind, tape is applied over swaths of paint only to be painted over again and again, from orange to black to white and back to black again, until it’s time for layers of tape to be peeled away to expose vivid shapes forms and lines beneath. The works that emerge are striking and full of instantaneous visual appeal.