Art & Photography / AnOther Happy Monday

The Beauty and Banality of West Coast Modernism

We take a sun-drenched road trip with artist Alice Tye to enliven our Monday morning

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When Alice Tye wrote her dissertation, she asked the (excellent) question: "Is modernist architecture used as visual shorthand for malevolent characters in popular films?" Then, while painting a series of artworks to accompany her answer, she realised that she ended up predominantly focusing on the much-renowned architecture of John Lautner (whose buildings can be found in the likes of A Single Man, Lethal Weapon 2 and The Big Lebowski). Thus, the project became glossily Hollywood-centric, with her documentation of his buildings filtered through the lens of the cinematographers who captured them for the silver screen. The second iteration of this series, entitled USA IRL and presented here, employs the same aesthetic – but Tye further broadened her scope: she wanted to use her own, firsthand experience to inform her work, which this time was determinedly less glamorous. She set out on a two-month road trip, and the series that followed is a beautiful immersion in west coast banality.

"When I set out to do it, I wasn’t sure what the end result would be," she explains. "After travelling in the States for a few months and taking hundreds of photos I found that my focus for the new project was on the less polished side of LA (and also Vegas and Palm Springs) and more on the things that made it seem real and maybe a bit ugly – like rubbish bins, and driveways and carparks. Films and TV definitely gloss over how long it takes to get from one part of LA to another and how awful the driving is! So roads, freeways, carparks all became a huge part of my work this time around, as it really dominated how I saw the city." The resulting works, wide and viewed from low angles, are literally how she saw her surroundings – yet become somehow enchanting through her painterly strokes. The perfect, palm-laden escapist fantasy to start your week: Happy Monday!

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