Alex Wakefield’s Need For Speed
We can thank a small-town Iowa public school system steeped in music and arts for every student to produce an artist like Alex Wakefield. Known best for his paintings of all things ‘Motorsport’, his 200 mile-per-hour images look fast sitting still, making palms sweat with vicarious adrenalin. His fast lane take on super machines and the people who drive them is perfect for the gearhead junkie/race enthusiast.
Rendered in bright crayon-like colors, Wakefield’s ongoing MotorArt series captures the crowd-thumping roar of big engines, body shaking vibrations and clouds of burning fuel and rubber. He knows his way around a track and was once an aspiring race car driver himself. Wakefield seems not only to make his subject matter zoom off the canvas but bring along all the imagined noise and heart pounding commotion with it such as his piece ‘Perfect Storm’ (driver Brian Redman from 1970) which permanently hangs in the Museu do Caramulo, Portugal, dedicated to European motoring history.
Last year, Wakefield and his art helped promote a documentary about the ground breaking career of former Indy driver Willy T. Ribbs for the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “I grew up watching this race series and liked the way he drove,” he says of Ribbs. “It’s a complete underdog story.” WISH-TV link: https://www.wishtv.com/news/top-video/former-IndyCar-driver-willy-t-ribs-is-subject-of-motorsports-art/.
Several go-to mediums like oil, graphite and Prismacolors™ define his passion about this art, and his favorite, micro pens, offer the most in technical reach and end product satisfaction. In general, Wakefield says he produces up to 20 paintings a year with a typical oil painting taking him weeks to complete due to the incorporated details. Illustrations can take months, a process he calls “manic but rewarding.” Many more sketches are done in between to keep the creative juices flowing. “I don’t like to be pinned to one style and I can always find some new facet or subject that wasn’t familiar to me,” he affirms.
Speaking of some new facet, Wakefield completed an artistical collaboration that began in 2016 with F1 race and party promoters to produce The Monarchy Series – British Royalty & Icons for Singapore’s Monarchy Cocktail Bar & Ultra Lounge. Seventeen of England’s favorite kings and queens along with notable English rulers of modern culture represent in 48×48 inch acrylic until the year’s end. Wakefield explains that there are actually 18 total paintings with David Bowie’s portrait noir still in storage and George Michael’s is now living in private collection.
This cheeky series is just as expressive and captivating as his race assemblage, a bit less colorful however, the Icons are more shades of black and white with pops of color in the study’s visage. There is an ironic dignity to the way Wakefield portrays his subjects, as if they are just regular people playing a prank on us with their crowns and trappings of fame. The Monarchs look lost in thought or in mid-conversation and fully relatable. Stay tuned for follow-up exhibit of the Brits next year.
Wakefield says he appreciates the empowering self-promotion of artistic collaborations and social media, not relying so much on galleries to showcase his work as they can have such narrow parameters. “My contention with galleries, art jams, whatever, is that it has to be a fair exchange of energy between all parties. I don’t believe in limiting great art for anyone. If that happens, we could be missing out on the next Picasso, Haring or Banksy,” he asserts.