Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Billions, zillions and trillions

Billions, zillions and trillions, the first solo exhibition of self-taught Perth artist Alexandra Lekias, is a romp through a vivid universe populated by doll-like mannequins captured in situations beyond their control and disembodied hands that pull the strings.
Chic but hollow characters are caught in actions that belie their stylish presentation. Streams of sugar gliders burst from pimples, party girls vomit a technicolour variety of whale breeds and hundreds of fainting couches trickle from a bleeding nose.

A strong sense of the ridiculous and bizarre pervades the black and white ink illustrations, which are illuminated with vivid splashes of watercolour in lolly-like hues. Rich in symbolism the works draw on dreams, memories and the artist’s personal narrative to explore themes including childhood and an innocent fascination with bodily functions.

Lekias, who cites 15th Century Iconic art, German Expressionist cinema, Japanese Manga and the works of Art Nouveau artist Aubrey Beardsley as among the many influences on her work, describes the main theme of Billions, Zillions and Trillions as the expression of a total loss of control.

“The characters I draw have no real will or power of their own, but act as narrative vehicles inhabiting a surreal, dream-like world”.

“They are subject to the normal bodily functions that we don't usually talk about and keep hidden behind the scenes, but with strange but beautiful twists.”

Accompanying the mannequins in this alternate reality is a series of severed hands, elegantly gloved and bejewelled, which have broken free of their bodies to take control. Far more powerful than the doll-like figures, the hands conjure scenes like omnipotent puppeteers.

“The hands are based on a recurring dream I had for a whole year”, explains Lekias.

“When I researched the meaning behind the dreams, severed hands apparently signified a subconscious expression of feeling as if one's life is out of their control”.

More of Lekias’ work can be seen adorning the album covers and promotional pieces for local band Sugar Army. Other side projects of the artist include developing a graphic novel and amassing a collection of 365 party dresses.

Billions, Zillions and Trillions, opens at 6.30pm Wednesday October 7 at Behind the Monkey and continues until Wednesday October 21.

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