Alex Chien

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Alex Chien
Alex Chien

Alexandros Andrianopoulos, aka Alex Chien, was born in 1994, in Athens, Hellas and he currently lives and works as an independent artist between Hellas and UK.

He studied 3D Animation and Multimedia Production in the Middlesex University and he continued his postgraduate studies in the UK in the field of Illustration at the Arts University of Bournemouth. 

During his studies he worked in the Red Design Consultants rebranding and designing agency.

Since his young age he dealt with graffiti and has been presented under the pseudonym Alex Chien. Murals, installations, cartoons, paintings, illustration, consist the main body of his overall production, plus he is engaged with brand collaborations, live painting and commissions. 

He has held solo exhibitions such as the one with the title The Match by Alex Chien, at Tsichritzis Foundation for the Visual Arts, in Kifissia, Athens, Hellas (2018).                                    

He has also taken part in group exhibitions in Hellas and abroad, a selection of which are: Application, organized and curated by Weedschat creatives group, Thanos Giannikopolos Metallurgist’s Workshop space, Galatsi, Athens, Hellas (2019) Necessity (Painting – Sculpture – Urban Art – Installations – Photography – 3D Mapping), organized and curated by Weedschat creatives group, Platanos Parking space, Kifissia, Athens, Hellas (2017) | Fledge, Bournemouth, UK (2017).

Highlight in his career was, in 2018, when he was distinguished and won the First Prize Award (public voters & judge committee) of The Walking Dead Art exhibition-contest, among 53 artists, at Athens Conservatoire. The open call was made by FOX, while the curating of the exhibition by M Art organization. The activation took place under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens and was supported by the established cultural network Athens Culture Net – The City of Athens which cooperates with Stavros Niarchos Foundation as its founding donor.

Moreover, of great importance was his first appearance in the America’s art scene, in 2019, and more specifically in the Art Basel Fair at Miami Beach (Art Basel Miami). Within The Art Plug Powerhouse (the biggest art and entertainment extravaganza during Miami Art Week featuring over 60 artists and creatives over 3 days), invited by The Art Plug creative agency, Alex Chien produced a large scale 3d installation tackling such an important contemporary issue as the treatment of nature. Thereunto the leading global American show, he represented with competence the new generation of emerging artists of his style. The project was curated by The Art Plug.  

Since then and until recently, he had been officially represented by The Art Plug agency in Miami. 

Published documentation, regarding him and his work, has been produced in the accompanying printed catalogues of the exhibitions mentioned above, while his presence in the Press can be tracked through such articles as: Heading to Kifissia, for the sake of Alex Chien’s painting ! A mix of street art and animation, The Match is a talk of the town exhibition at the north suburbs, Stephanos Tsitsopoulos, Athens Voice e-newspaper (27 March 2018) Alex Chien: ‘ Let’s separate the graffiti from street art’, interview to Zeta Tzioti, Artviews e-magazine (15 Septemmber 2019).

Alex Chien’s works are constantly becoming part of important private art collections.

Artist’s note: I am a Greek illustrator and graffiti artist, living and working between Greece and UK, creating satirical, surreal cartoons and illustrations. My passion for Art started from a very early age when childhood pastimes, endearing experiences and emotions took on the urge to express themselves through drawing. My greatest inspirations are Salvador Dali and Walt Disney as it is their work that motivated me to study drawing and express my passion for Art and Design. Today my endeavours are focused on manifesting my vision of life through a personal artistic form of expression, while allowing for the viewer’s own interpretation. I wish to bring something new to the industry, giving voice to my satirical illustrations and cartoons as they address the absurdity or significance of social issues, current events, plus people and objects. The means through which I am striving for success are through exhibitions and free-lancing.  

Curator’s note: Sizable cartoon arrangements, vibrant colours, eccentric reflections toying with various motifs, figures and objects, all blend together convey such an aesthetic vibe that magnetizes the viewer at once and captures the eye. Alex Chien’s gratifying surfaces carry such an expressive power that dealing with them is, far and wide, a highly enjoyable experience.

Considered to be a distinctive young artist of our time, Alex Chien, undoubtedly, belongs to this new generation of painters, all 30 years old or even younger, that are redefining the Surrealist movement by reflecting Surrealism through contemporary ways and media. In fact, there are no rules to the medium.

Brought up in an era where the animation industry dominates the world film market, many of these young artists, including Alex Chien, were deeply engaged with and attracted by its aesthetics and practices. They were surrounded by a plethora of acclaimed animated theatrical shorts, movies and TV series, and were environed by popular cartoon characters of celebrated status and powerful universal icon, as produced and promoted by the various studios. Thereafter, within this current time, a large number of young emerging artists started to employ, on their paintings and subsequently illustrations, such imagery inspired by cartoons from their childhood, drawing on the influence of Surrealism of the 1920s and 30s. Alike the Surrealists, their inspiration emanates from the power of imagination which they seek to unlock by using their audience’s subconscious minds.

Nevertheless, animation and Surrealism were well-matched and in accord ever since the very early beginnings of both. Surrealism has influenced the animation industry right from its start, while the industry has been developed since the earliest days of Surrealist movement and has become sort of its echo. To be noticed that, in 1945, Disney collaborated with one of the leading exponents of Surrealism, Salvatore Dali, himself, on an exceptional ‘Dalí-esque’ animation called Destino (Spanish for Destiny).

Cartooning and plenty other forms of illustration, including graffiti art, animation and, even more, technology-based tools and techniques, appear to further advance the thriving of a new type of pieces that could be defined as Pop Surrealism; a rather successful combination of two powerful stances in art, Pop Art and Surrealism. Within this framework, past comes up against future in a ‘sui generis’ fantasy scenery. Through a unique mixing process, modern interpretations of, and references to Old Masters and great painters of history are successfully merged with cartoon-inspired figures or icons of pop culture, poking fun, while, at the same time, addressing political and social issues of current era.

Today, Pop Surrealism movement is constantly drawing much-deserved attention. It delights in impertinence through an unapologetic way, since the overall artistic context that acted upon its formation and, ultimately, determined its status plus its prosperity, can be defined as self-conceived and created. Therefore, due to its autonomous and absolute character, the conditions and the settings in which this particular artistic field carries on deploying into various branches and particular aesthetics at different ‘loci’ around the globe, is fairly dynamic. Valuing highly its own rules and norms, it is surely reaching a high point in artistic significance and importance.  

On this wise, as a true representative of the new art trends in the field of graffiti and illustration, Alex Chien chooses to introduce the cartoon characters, acts and narratives of his oeuvres through the use of a rather Pop Surrealist culture imagery, as aforementioned. Actually, for him, labels have no importance. He is more concerned in the capacious ways painting media can be applied to develop allusive, subversive, and transcendental compositions. 

Making a more or less disguised reference to elements of Surrealism, Alex Chien’s graffiti canvasses appear as moving images giving the effect of animation. Indulged in fantasies, they may have a magical, attractive impact on the viewer and a power to arouse interest leading, inventively, into a hallucinogenic head-trip. There is no fixed narrative. The viewer may fantasize the story behind in a different way, or still, question and, why not, change the narrative at any moment. As he himself statesIn this period of my life I want to show the modern addictions through my paintings, trying to make people think and wonder about them.’ Even the titles Alex Chien chooses enhance the superficial embedded in the artist’s making process, offer thought-provoking starting points, while creating reflective associations for the viewer.

His strength rests in his ability to compose eloquent pictures by artfully constructed impracticabilities, crashed heterogeneous places and paradoxical occurrences that end up opening a new array of possibilities. Broached in a flawlessly executed Pop Surrealist manner, dream-worlds, alternate universes and along paths are set in motion inviting the viewer to move through them, lifeless objects are endowed with life, while eye-popping colours are going on a lush interplay; all synthesized into a visual pyrotechnics display.  

Notable is the fact that, building on his own characteristic, sharply eccentric, artistic language, Alex Chien’s art draws upon the idea of simultaneously upholding and extinguishing illusions. Although he recalls childhood reveries, and despite his close relationship to illustration that allows for a suchlike abrupt imaginative ‘space-time’ transition, actually, his cartoon-tainted works, retain a secretive symbolization, oozing in allegories and metaphors. By means of a near-esoteric devotion to the act of making, he, primarily, seeks to prove that cartooning and graffiti art can become a very effective tool for illustrating important social and cultural matters of the contemporary society, at large, raising awareness. 

Moreover, executed in high calibre refinement and depicted with impressive technical artistic skills, the allegorical power of his scenes and the strong sense of eerie, humour and sarcasm of the content, are further emphasized. His idiosyncratic work, exerts its influence via a Pop-Surrealist invitation of alternative sort of apprehension and consumption, speaks out, plus puts itself forward and beyond mere illustration, drawing the viewer’s absolute attention.

Finding its cultural traces back in the ‘mainstream’ Los Angeles of the late 1960s, in street art or onto the crude artworks of underground cartoonists, as displayed on the walls of alternative galleries in California and New York, I would dare say that, nowadays, the new audacious creative art field, defined as Pop Surrealism, with its unconventional character, is assuredly here to stay. Pop Surrealism keeps on building dynamically its vast oeuvre towards the art sector, once an ever-augmenting roster of contemporary creatives, with a gifted personal vernacular, like Alex Chien, are making themselves productively relatable to it.

Nelly Fili

Notation:

Destino (Spanish for Destiny) is an animated short film storyboarded by Disney studio artist John Hench and Spanish Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, released in 2003 by Walt Disney Feature Animation. The interesting issue is that its production originally began 58 years before, in 1945. The music was written by Mexican songwriter Armando Domínguez and performed by Mexican singer Dora Luz. It was included in the Animation Show of Shows in 2003. 

The seven-minute short narrates the story of Chronos and his ill-fated love for a mortal woman named Dahlia who is shown dancing through surreal scenery inspired by Dalí’s paintings.  

Along with its premier on June 2 in 2003 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in Annecy, France, the film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film of 2003 and, ever since, is continuously featured as part of ‘Dalí’ exhibitions around the world, including the major retrospective Dalí show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, titled The Dalí renaissance: new perspectives on his life and art after 1940.  

Bibliographic References: 

1. Maureen Furniss, Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics, Indiana University Press, 1998.
2. Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Disney Animation: The Illusion of life, Abbeville Press, 1981.
3. Ron Barbagallo, The Destiny of Dalí’s Destino, Animation Art Conservation, 2003.
4. Surrealism and Painting, Icon, 1973.
5. Ricardo Martinez,  From Pop Surrealism to Lowbrow – Something Got Lost in Translation, London, England, Widewalls.ch., December 5, 2015. Archived from the original on December 11, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
6. Terrance Lindall, What’s New In the Surreal World – Surrealism isn’t Dead, It’s Dreaming, Wilmington, NC: Art & Antiques Worldwide Media, LLC, March 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2018.

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