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A review of the contemporary art and writing of Alexander Giehl

A review of the contemporary art and writing of Alexander Giehl

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Published by Mike Price

The work of Cincinnati Artist and Writer Alexander Giehl

The work of Cincinnati Artist and Writer Alexander Giehl

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Categories:Types, Reviews, Art
Published by: Mike Price on Feb 02, 2013
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09/17/2013

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Price 1 Mike Price Contemporary Art: Issues and Ideas Gaffney 7 November 2012 The Work of Alexander Giehl

If you are already an avid reader of Alexander Giehl’s work then you know that he prefers to think of himself as not just an artist but first and foremost a writer. For those who are unfamiliar with the work of Alexander you may project a different image than ‘writer’ when you learn that the 21 year old is in fact a printmaker. Because of printmaking being a path that is commonly, if not always associated with artists, one may ask where the writing aspect comes in. It is common to think of an artist as being someone who creates a visual aesthetic for viewers to stand in front of, look over, discuss, and be left with a memory of images of the work long after. But for Alexander the visual aesthetic is by choice all but absent from the work he creates and he is less concerned about what is happening in front of your eyes as he is with what’s happening in the back of your mind. Giehl presents us with a form of poetry and writing of his own that he prints onto both walls and large surfaces alike, as well as paper. What appears to be a simple and sometimes rather short phrase is presented to us in a common font (he prefers only two to be exact) as black text on a white background. In fact the work is executed so well as being ordinary and common at first glance that it is only the scale and placement of these carefully printed words that are what nudge us to take a second glance. Through his mastery of screenprinting and various tweaks of the traditional process Alex is able to print huge phrases of nearly immaculate baseline and letter spacing that span the length of entire hallways. Shockingly when talking with Alex he told me that he was uninterested in craft and that his work is not so much about perfection of the aesthetic as it is the conversation that happens after the work has been viewed. Modifying a favorite quote of his by Frank O’Hara, Alex tells me, “You want your craft to be good enough that no one cares about it.” Typeface is something we encounter everyday and any small variance from the perfect computer generated text we know so well would stand out immediately and encroach upon the real work. And the real work of Alexander Giehl is not that which you see printed on the wall, but rather the aspect that cannot be seen at all. One piece reads, ‘You read this in your own voice’ in large black type and spans the length of a wall outside his studio in Cincinnati, Ohio where he works and lives. The psychological implications of reading this piece, and I mean really reading it, is something that resonates deep within a mind that struggles to do exactly the opposite of what it’s being told, but likely to no avail. It is certainly easy to dismiss a single sentence as you pass by Alexander’s studio, and likely many do, though it is not out of dislike for such

He describes the two as. Simply viewing an image doesn’t mean nearly as much because the viewer can choose whether or not they even want to think about the work. It is those who read the work that he seeks to have a conversation with about what the work is doing.” said Giehl while leading a discussion of language and its role in contemporary art. His love for language as an art form is rooted in the unique paradox that “You critique language with more language. . meaning your mind truly becomes the work.” Rather then use imagery. But it is those who take the time to stop and look that Alexander is creating work for. if even for a moment. and presents it in a way that is larger then any context we would encounter on a daily basis. The power of using language is that the reader actively participates in the work by reading it. he prefers to distill language to its base and use that as a form of communication. Though Alex would prefer for his audience to solely read his work. Generally his work is large enough to encompass your entire range of vision and has a physical presence that seems to make the work effortlessly embody you as a reader. not to mention one can only process language so fast. He uses the English language. [unlike painting] you don’t critique painting with more paint. “with words I can actually say something. In actuality the work of Alexander Giehl does not exist in any physical sense. we can’t help but focus. in it’s most basic form. Standing in front of a work of Alexander Giehl is to both view it and to read it simultaneously.” There is a definite element of time when it comes to reading and it means you actually are required to think. on the visual presence of the words presented to us. Giehl tells me that. “There is a huge difference between ‘viewing’ a work and ‘reading’ a work. The beauty of the work is that language truly only exists in the minds of those thinking in language. In a way Giehl’s work is only complete after its been viewed and digested and he has been able to have an interaction as artist to viewer with a viewer who’s interacted with his writing.Price 2 work but rather a clear indicator of the distracted minds and busy agendas of today’s society.

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