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 Alexander J (Alex) Couwenberg  (1967 - )

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: abstract and non objective painting, illustration

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Alexander J (Alex) Couwenberg
An example of work by Alexander J (Alex) Couwenberg
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Museum of Art and History (MOAH):
Born and raised in Southern California, painter Alex Couwenberg creates images that are inspired by the elements indigenous to his surroundings. From Los Angeles, Couwenberg’s work references and suggests the aesthetic associated with mid-century modernism, car culture, skateboards, and surfboards. Not to leave out, paying homage to the historical styles of post-war art making associated with Los Angeles and Southern California throughout the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s.

Couwenberg’s paintings give a nod towards the Hard-edge abstractionists, the finish fetish, and the light and space artists. Not content to replicate, he uses the sensibility of Eames-era design and hard-edge geometric abstraction as points of departure for creating paintings. His process, an additive and reductive series of moves and passes, creates multi-layered environments that are deep and sensual. He harnesses these ideas into harmonious results, reflecting the visual landscape of his environment.

A graduate from Art Center College of Design and The Claremont Graduate School, Couwenberg worked under the guidance of Karl Benjamin, one of the leading figures in the Southern California based school of Hard-edge geometric abstraction. Benjamin was instrumental in the development of his painting style, process, and philosophy. A Southern California native, Couwenberg naturally embraced this sensibility and applied it to his art making practices. By instilling the discipline and work ethic associated with these philosophies into his process, the paintings began to mature and develop a visual voice. The vocabulary references the dedication toward craft, process, and the progression of concepts and techniques.

Couwenberg’s paintings have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. His work can be found in numerous public, private, corporate and museum collections around the world. Recent museum acquisitions include the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Laguna Art Museum, Crocker Museum of Art and the Daum Museum in Missouri.

In 2007 Couwenberg was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for his achievements in painting and was recently featured as the subject of Los Angeles based film maker Eric Minh Swenson, which focuses on the artists life and studio practices. Couwenberg recently exhibited a body of paintings in a two person show along with his mentor Karl Benjamin in Los Angeles. The show was part of the Getty Museum's ongoing “Pacific Standard Time” project highlighting Southern California artists and their contributions towards art making.

Biography from Riverside Art Museum:
Born in 1967 to Dutch-Indonesian immigrant parents, Alexander Couwenberg was exposed to art and culture from a very young age. In his childhood home in California, where both Dutch and Indonesian were spoken, he was taught to understand and appreciate the art of Indonesia and the craft associated with the Dutch masters. His parents recognized his early interest in the arts and encouraged him to participate in formal art education as early as elementary school.

After showing great potential in painting and drawing in his high school years, Couwenberg went on to earn a Associates Degree in studio art from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California. Couwenberg applied to the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena, California, where he was accepted in the Illustration Department.

Couwenberg worked as a freelance illustrator to pay his tuition at Art Center and still managed to earn his Illustration degree in a record three years. Although very interested in illustration, the process of painting itself was more moving to Couwenberg than producing work that was commercially driven. He decided to enroll in a graduate program that focused on painting.

Couwenberg was accepted to the art program at the Claremont Graduate School under the direction of Roland Reiss. Couwenberg worked for two years under the instruction of artists Karl Benjamin, Roland Reiss, John Millei and David Amico where he won a Merit Scholarship and went on to earn his Masters Degree in 1997.

Drawn to the mid century movement of non-objective abstract painting, Couwenberg's connection with mentor Karl Benjamin was instrumental in the development of Couwenberg's painting style and process.

Recently, Couwenberg's work was included in "Out of Line" an exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum focusing on the contributions of non-objective painting in Southern California.



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