Alex Canelos Highlights the Artistic Process: Now at Roost

A completed work of art is always nice to observe and reflect upon, but for others, the collaboration and development process is what makes that piece meaningful. Alex Canelos, an artist for the Roost Gallery, is currently displaying his work at the Roost that emphasizes that process. 

The exhibit, “Drawings and Paintings,” debuted on Nov. 14 and held its opening reception on Nov. 16. It will be on display until Dec. 8.

Canelos studied at the Parsons School of Design for illustration and graphic design and has done graphic design work for The New York City Department of Transportation and The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also is the director of The Sevenfold Studio, a graphic design studio based in the Hudson Valley.

The artwork featured at the gallery was rooted in the style of European Renaissance art in the 1500s, so a great emphasis was placed on form and shading. “Three Head Studies,” featured portraits of three models, Gerald S., Dusty C. and Mike L. The way light and shadow fell on each of the subjects’ faces helped heighten their respective emotions, while the distinctly colored backgrounds were eye-popping and demanded attention.

However, the style of the pieces isn’t their defining feature, but rather the collaboration and development that went into them. The gallery featured various sketches of models and other objects. “David’s Eye (Color By Numbers)” was a sketch of the eye from Michelangelo’s “David.” Surrounding the sketch itself were various notes left by Canelos as he was creating it.

Canelos explained why he included these sketches in his exhibit. “I think there’s so much emphasis, in our present-day society about the end result,” Canelos said. “I wanted to derail that a little bit and bring in things that were a part of something that was finalized, but it was [an earlier stage].”

The centerpiece of the gallery was “Survey,” a landscape painting featuring three different models on a field. The field itself is almost a surreal landscape. The foreground is populated by green grass and a yellow, blooming flower, while in the mid-ground the grass appears slightly dry and even decaying, the background features orange trees transitioning into autumn. 

Of note are the three models. To the right, a young woman is taking a dancing pose, as if she were a ballerina. In the middle, another young woman is leaning on two trees, nude. On the left is a young man surveying the landscape with what appears to be a camera or telescope. This last model was added by two students in Canelos’ model drawing class. 

For Canelos, collaboration is an incredibly important part of the artistic process. 

“Communicating with other people and working with them presents a whole other dimension in the process,” Canelos said. “Which for me, is a very warm kind of collaboration, just trying to be open to other people who may or may not have the same ideas of how to proceed with a composition.” Supplemental materials, such as the sketch of the piece and the materials the students used were present in the gallery.

Canelos hopes a connection is developed between the art and the viewer.

“It’s trying to approach very simply, and by simply, I mean looking at the patterns of lights and darks… and taking that in with something other than one’s intellect,” Canelos said. “Maybe somebody could come back, and maybe one of the visits that they make, and all that would drop away, all the history and theory would drop away, and they would connect with the piece in a physical way.”