On the occasion of Alex Fischer's fourth solo exhibition with O'Born Contemporary, he problematizes the
single image by its very conversion into multiple, nearly identical forms. A digital original is here reproduced as 1 digital print, 7 large oil paintings, and 6000 small acrylic paintings. Through this multi-modal exhibition, Fischer deliberates on the nature of art with its value systems and capitalist patrimony.
Current agricultural trends demonstrate that when tomatoes are grown, the aim is to direct natural processes, taking agency over evolution. Like all biological species, the tomato plant contains a genetic copy of itself inside every cell of its being. Repetition and versioning are as much a rule in agriculture as they are in human life. Conversely, uniqueness and independence of mind are selling points when it comes to art. There is an established value in originality.1
Each of the 7 oil paintings was completed by an equal number of painters working in Xiamen, China. Fischer puts the work of these trained hands in direct visual argument with the mechanically reproduced print: he suggests deliberation about the capitalist mechanism and simultaneously entertains his moral ambiguity within this landscape of unapologetic consumptive socio-culture.
The controversy here may be in the fact that Fischer criticizes the capitalist system by highlighting elements that are uncomfortable to acknowledge while fully engaging with capitalism's ideologies through the kaleidoscope of fine art and its market. He grows the pieces, puts them under optimal lighting, and creates versions at price points to invite the viewer to buy.
An arched shelf bolsters 6000 small sheets of thin, transparent plastic. Hundreds have already been painted, revealing that they exist as an assemblage of tiles that, when properly arranged, mimic their parent image. Fischer will paint the remaining sheets on demand as they are requested and will continue this practice alongside his other projects.
Artwork as a commodity is not valuable per se– its value is the result of an ongoing and never ending social negotiation. That being said, the work of art, and painting specifically, is an object that bears a concrete, almost measurable evidence of labour on its surface.2 Paintings are worked over and leave a trace of the individual mark maker. Each edition in 1, 7, and 6000 shows on its surface the inevitable difference made during translation between parent image and end product. Each image is the real thing.
– Alex Fischer, February 2015
1. This idea is commensurate with remarks issued by Ben Davis: It is the
uniquely middle-class nature of creative labor in the visual arts [that] would seem to explain its alternative emphasis on the individual, that is, on the virtues of personality and small production, as well as a whole host of other stylistic tics and affectations(...) visual art's characteristic questioning or ironic attitude; the value of the artist's signature and the "artist's statement" that are associated with it. Davis, Ben. 9.5 Theses on Art and Class - Commerce and Consciousness. Chicago:Haymarket Books, 2013. PDF file.
2. Graw, Isabelle. Thinking through Painting - Reflexivity and Agency beyond the Canvas. Sternberg Press, 2012. Page 56.