In the Spotlight: Alexandra Lederman | Artist

Alexandra Lederman – ‘Syncopation’

Alexandra Lederman, a Melbourne based artist with an passion for circles. She has a solo show at the Tate Gallery in Sydney this Wednesday, and it is not to be missed. As a precursor to her art show, we sat down with Alex to find a bit more about her process, inspirations and whats next.

Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming an artist, and to creating the style of work you are currently making?

I always used to love painting in school, but I was very focused on impressionism and landscape painting as my style. I also used to ‘doodle’ a lot in class. Strangely it was my way of paying the most attention! When I look at my current art practice, I can see a combination of my early painting style and subconscious doodling, into one style. The circle, as a recurring theme, happened as an accident. One day while sitting in a gallery, I drew around the bottom of a glass onto a napkin and began ‘doodling’ onto the napkin. A friend saw the photograph I took of it and asked to have it. I got home that night and decided to try again with ink onto watercolour paper. I became addicted to creating these subconscious ‘worlds’ of my imagination, and created a series of 28 works, which were exhibited as my first show ‘Mind Mapping’ at the Tate Gallery, Glebe

How would you describe your work?

My work always begins with a circle or circular form. From here, I then move into subconscious worlds of my imagination. These ‘worlds’ often have aspects of landscapes, geometry and abstraction, to create a surreal, non-linear composition.

What can we expect to see in your new exhibition ‘Syncopation’ at The Tate? What has inspired this body of work?

In music, syncopation involves a variety of rhythms, which are often unexpected, making the music ‘off-beat’ – a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm.

In this exhibition entitled ‘Syncopation’, I will show a number of works, which although vary in style and medium, all stem from the same foundation- the circle. I have used bold, geometric lines against negative space to mirror the strong and weak accents that occur in syncopated music.

I discovered the world of syncopation after a friend kept coming to view my work and telling me that my new pieces were looking very ‘syncopated’. I researched how this worked in music, and realized that it too could work in visual art. I believe there is and has always been a very strong connection between music and art.

Can you give us a little insight into your process? What materials do you use? Is each work pre-planned or created very intuitively?

I never plan any of my works. The only planned aspect is the beginning circle. Starting with a circle is enough to make me feel comfortable to create a work that is un-planned and natural. The size of the circle will mostly depend on what circular objects I have around me at the time. Once the circle is on the canvas or other surface, I will then decide what materials I will use to create the rest of the piece. This could range from pen, ink, oils, acrylic, aerosol, pastels, pencil or collage. Sometimes I will incorporate a landscape or images of my surroundings into the work.

Strangely I work the best when I am distracted. It allows me to work more subconsciously and naturally. Usually I will play music or talk to a friend to help distract myself from the process.

You work across so many different platforms – graffiti art, canvas, coffee cups. What is your favourite format to work on?

All of them for different reasons! I love doing street art because it allows me to work in a large scale and I love that the public can view it. I really like its ephemeral nature and how it often only lasts through documentation of the work. I also think it is really interesting how different times of the day and changing surrounding elements can alter how the piece looks.

Canvas’s always work really well as a surface to experiment with different mediums and the combination of them.

I have really enjoyed working on coffee cups this year. I like that each café has a unique logo that I can use as a starting point. Often they happen to be circles too! Takeaway cups are a really nice surface for pen work too.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Lots of circles, lots of drawing and painting, lots of thinking, some frustration and paper scrunching, lots of good food and coffee.

Which other local artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

Brett Whitely, Gemma O’Brien Doze Green, Russell Drysdale, Max Berry, ApeSeven, Basquiat.  

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Probably when my artwork was printed on 48.000 Avant-Cards and distributed around Australia, or being filmed for a Qantas ‘Dreamers and Creators’ video.

What would be your dream project?

I would love to travel and create/exhibit my works overseas.

What are you looking forward to?

Spending many more days/nights creating and exploring all the possibilities with my circles. I would love to spend more time on learning the techniques of spray painting and street art. I look forward to future exhibitions and one day having a live in studio space to make my own unique space and create works in!