Alexander Roulette


Written by Barney Cox
14 Monday 14th January 2013

How did you first get into painting?

I drew constantly as a child and made the transition to painting when I was little older. It felt like a fairly natural progression, I suppose I just wanted to work with color. My family moved to a new house, but for about six months I continued to live in the emptied house because it was closer to school. I began making somewhat minimalistic paintings in the emptied rooms focusing on the spatial relationships between a few spare objects. Those paintings weren’t great but I think that’s when my aesthetic emerged. I was dealing with isolation in a way that still resonates in my recent pieces: a form of isolation when one gets stuck in their thoughts and starts to relate to the world in non-social terms, finding meaning in physical distances.

How would you describe your style? What’s your mission statement?

I try to create paintings that are uncanny, that are located in a natural and architectural landscape, but speak to the essential strangeness of the world once you start peeling away the layers.

I'd like to piece together a fable about an archetypal longing, one that explores my own, deeply personal desire for past experiences. There are aspects of nostalgia that speak universally, like, for example, desiring something that is close enough to almost touch, but that remains unattainable.

Your style has evolved over time, moving increasingly toward a kind of dream-like surrealism. What triggered this change?

I wanted to give my self more freedom and allow my imagination to take over. The beauty of painting is that it holds the unique ability to showcase the imagination and I felt I wasn’t taking advantage of that in my older works. I’d like to recreate the feeling of suddenly finding yourself somewhere totally unfamiliar, like when you’re traveling and wake up not knowing where you are.

You seem influenced by the nature of memory and dreams. How does this find expression in your paintings?

I’m interested in how memories become distorted, they become more about personal perception and less about reality. By isolating and dislocationing cars, houses and figures, I try to recall the hazy state of dreams in which certain details fall into place and others fade into the unconscious.

I’d like to have the viewer ask, 'what is real?' and 'how reliable is our recollection of certain moments from the past?'.

Where are you based at the moment? How do your surroundings influence your work?

Right now I live in Manhattan. Even with all the people inhabbiting its concrete valleys, there are still so many ways in which it leaves you feeling isolated. I no longer hear the chirping of crickets outside my window, but the industrial buzzing of the city moving at all hours. Perhaps it’s the city that pushes me into a state of dreaminess and a longing for the greater America. It’s those feelings that fuel my paintings.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently in grad school at Columbia University which has pretty much consumed my life for the past two years. I’ve started many new paintings since starting school but I’ve had a hard time finishing them. I have quite a few people visiting my studio each week and it can be challenging to talk about the same project repeatedly. I end up just starting something new.

I’m working on my thesis and creating new work for that as well as finishing some paintings from 2012. I’m not sure what I’m going to do after graduation, I’m going to see what happens.

See more of Alex’s work over on his website.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.