If you have ever read the NY Post, you are most likely familiar with Alex Gardega’s many controversial works. Remember the nude Mario Batali? The Bernie Madoff Hot sauce “Bernie in Hell”? What about re-creating the Sistine Chapel on his apartment ceiling? Just recently, for Mariano Rivera’s retirement, he made some cool paintings and glasswork. He painted the side of a huge truck, depicting God spray painting the words, “Banksy Go Home”, mocking the international art-star. He does not shy away from anything. And whenever he does something, it’s big, it’s newsworthy, and it’s aesthetically pleasing.
This Texan/Long Islander (weird mix, right?) is probably the only artist that not only wakes up at 4 or 5 in the morning but breaks his ass making art. He came to New York with nothing and made a name for himself. He suffered his way through it. That is the true meaning of passion. His art reflects it and he is in big demand.
His real love is line-based art and the Renaissance. He knows more about Michelangelo and the Renaissance than most art historians. Gardega idolizes the great Italian masters of that time but he also has a deep, dark-side love for Dali. His own personal paintings show the great Spaniard’s influence, but Gardega’s marvelous glass etched work is purely classic. Whenever I have him make me copies of old Italian art, he jumps at the chance.
Piazzalife is thrilled to have Alex Gardega with us.
1) Do you remember your first painting? Do you remember the first masterpiece you saw?
Yes, I still own my first painting, done when I was nine or so. The first masterpiece was “The Anatomy Lesson” by Rembrandt.
2) You disagree with most modern art. What is it about a good chunk of that category that just does not get it?
I am not moved by modern art. It doest “stir my groin”, as I once heard a gallery owner say about how art moves him. The harder art is to copy, the better the art. That sounds simplistic but it isnt. No one has made a passable copy of either the Mona Lisa or the David by Michelangelo because they can’t. I could copy modern art when I was 13, any of it spot-on perfect. I still struggle with Michelangelo copies but I can come close.
3) Which painter (they’re probably all dead now) would you give your left arm to be? Left arm, because you are a righty, right?
I would love to study with Leonardo more than anything. Then Michelangelo, Velasquez. And then Rembrandt and Raphael. And yes, I am a righty
4) Do you believe in an AfterLife?
I believe time and death are both illusions as is life. Quantum physics proves that everything is nothing and therefore maybe afterlife is the wrong word. Different dimension and I believe in god and good and evil.
5) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years, I see a man who stuck to a hellish, hard road and I guess persistence is its own reward. It teaches you a lot more than words can express. I suppose a more settled man, calmer.
6) When you get an idea for a painting, map it out for us how you go about starting it?
A good painting needs a map, like building a house but my lost souls series are pure soul. Technique without technique; I wing those.
7) You, like me, love Geometry. Explain its role in Art.
Geometry is the one math that they say comes from the other side of the brain than other math. Probably true, as its the only math I can do. I am horrid at math but really good at geometry. I love it. It is a lost art; the old masters lived geometry. Modern art has no geometry.
8) You finally got to Italy a few years back and it transformed you. Let loose. Tell us anything that comes to mind about Italy and your experience.
Italy can’t be explained. It was the place I always hoped existed like a fantasy but really didnt expect it to be as amazing as it is. It changed my life. I have friends who are artists and never went; they are insane
9) You recently pushed some buttons by painting an anti-Banksy piece on the side of a truck. It was huge, well done, and made big news. What prompted you to do it?
There was this huge semi-tractor trailer in front of my new art studio every day that was old and ugly with bad graffitti on it. I committed myself to paint it because I like to challenge myself every chance I can and that was a huge, scary piece of “canvas”. I stayed up for 24 hours and got it done. The Banksy statement was just me testing my own beliefs about street art vs. quote-un-quote fine art. There is some good street art and a lot of bad street art. I actually think Bansky has some talent, as far as being clever in his ideas, but he stole his whole thing from a french guy so F him. He isnt what people build him up to.
10) What would you absolutely never wear?
I dont wear red. Never have, never will. Maybe on xmas but that is the only time.
11) You are not a portrait artist, but if you had the opportunity to paint any 3 people in history, who would they be?
I would paint Thomas Jefferson, Jesus, and Dali.