Alex Taves cites Pablo Picasso, David Hockney and Richard Prince as influencing his work. Picasso’s distinctive style and prolific output, Hockney’s graphic, colour-rich approach to art-making, Prince’s practice of appropriation and the media – all aspects which give life to Alex’s interplay between art and graphic design.
Equally influenced by fine art and graphic design practices, he finds the intersection of the two to be both intriguing and confusing – especially the perception that a graphic designer should not also be thought of as an artist. Since 1995 he has been working with digital media, beginning at a time when the medium was in its infancy. He was one of the first to exhibit this type of work in Toronto, his home at the time.
Alex’s work often uses repetition of imagery or several versions of the same piece. “It started years ago with my obsession of vintage boxing photos” he explains. “Every time I viewed them, it opened up a new dialogue. There are certain art pieces that I’ve been reworking for many years.”
His digital photographic series printed on archival paper seem like ordinary snapshots of everyday life. In fact they are carefully manipulated images which build a mood as much as a composition. Bold shapes play off each other, patterns are emphasized, figures are used incidentally and colours have a painterly effect rather than a photographic one.
Alex muses that, “a DJ seamlessly works in tracks, he/she will change the pitch, add or subtract bass or even speed up or slow down the track. I treat my images the same way. I study my own work and manipulate it to fit the moment. I feel it doesn’t lessen the original and frankly what is the original? It’s simply an evolution of an idea.”
Alex Taves is a graduate of Ryerson University’s School of Fashion (Toronto) and the Digital Media Program at Concordia University (Montreal) where he explored the notion of digital media as ‘real’ art. For eight years he was Head of Graphics at Joe Fresh in Toronto. Now a studio artist, he lives with his family in Brantford, Ontario.
22 x 30″ digital prints on archival paper: