Alexander Kori Girard
Alexander Kori Girard fits comfortably in the Bay Area Figurative tradition, specifically in the Funk Art sub-genre epitomized by Roy De Forest’s untamed, visionary landscapes and mythologies. He is kin to a generation of artists that came of age in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late-1980s and early ‘90s. This group of outsiders and the communal spirit they represented is commonly referred to as The Mission School. Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, Ruby Neri, Alicia McCarthy, and Barry McGee, among others too numerous to name, brought the street-wise aesthetics of the city—its denizens and misfits—into the fine arts scene. While many attended art school, these artists, like Girard, drew inspiration from peers as much as anything else and were so close knit in their rejection of the mainstream as to be almost tribal.
Girard’s paintings include washes and gestural flourishes that add shine to an already lush cast of characters and motifs. The hard edges soften to encourage viewers’ eyes to wander in the picture and their minds to engage the work’s narrative depths. Girard also considered in a recent conversation that the pandemic year may have had an impact on his practice. So much of the year was an unflinching meditation on living day by day in a state of not knowing. Perhaps that experience allowed the work to let boundaries dissolve and control give way to connection.
The artist’s marks rarely extend beyond a comfortable scale for writing or doodling. They operate like hieroglyphics, in the space where language, symbol, and visual sensations carry the story. For the artist, it is important that the viewer get a sense of the story but not crucial that everything is understood. He leaves more for discovery and room for imagination. The narrative is a means to make the work. Girard chases stories and follows intuition in a building block fashion, stacking one image upon the next until the surface is full and resonant.
Girard’s larger paintings on canvas have a divergent presence from his small paintings on panel and paper. They are uncharacteristically large, devoid of figures, and more formal. This new direction has a fascinating effect of creating sculptural conditions where the room and viewers are implicated in the work. In some ways, the large paintings represent the granular version of his smaller work; It is as if we, in Alice-In-Wonderland fashion, just walked through the looking glass and entered the artist’s universe.