Alexandre Singh. Photo: Alexandre Singh Studio

 

The multifarious practice of Alexandre Singh (*1980) is fuelled by a need to challenge traditional modes of narrative. Utilizing installation, performance, literature, drawing, sculpture and film, Singh has an incredibly broad range of references from all facets of culture. Inserting these into new and unfamiliar, contexts he aims to create open-ended dialogues that focus on the complex relationship between language and visualization.

 

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His constant balance of the banal and erudite creates an overarching tone of the comic, evident in some of his earliest series Assembly Instructions (2008–2013). Comprised of large number of collages drawn from disparate sources but united in a standardized aesthetic created by photocopying them in black and white and slotting them into white frames, Singh drew annotated pencil lines between each unit to create mind maps of mystical connections. Elements from encyclopedias, catalogues, Google and library books all proved ripe for decontextualizing and inserting into these new narratives, supplemented by lectures that were one part academic justification and one part motivational coaching session or marketing seminar. Assisted by the use of transparencies and antiquated overhead projectors, Singh explains the connection between Ikea store layouts and Renaissance mnemonic theory, for example, always weaving stories but ensuring there is a semblance of credible believability.

A thread of absurdity is equally prevalent in his installation and play The School for Objects Criticized (2010), the title making reference to Molière’s comedy La Critique de l’École des Femmes (1662) while also drawing from more recent comedies such as Seinfeld (1989–98), or turns of phrase that recall Oscar Wilde’s aphorisms. Seven objects, including a bottle of beach, a cassette recorder and a stuffed skunk, sit on plinths in a darkened room and as each one takes its turn to speak they are dramatically spot lit. A conversation unfurls between them that takes in art, sex, and religion, each object revealing their finely tuned character in a comedy of manners that takes the conventions and foibles of the art world as its lynchpin. Extending this on a grander scale, for his first play The Humans (2013), Singh assembled a cast of actors, choreographers, musicians and costume designers to assist realize a three-hour epic over which he maintained sole creative control. Based loosely on Aristophanes’ satires and Shakespearean comedies, the play also takes influence from a litany of sources that range from Woody Allen films to kabuki theatre, via South Park (1997–present) and Baroque choreography, each of which are themselves rife with critiques of their own era’s dominant social structures.

By non-discriminatorily collapsing such disparate references into one field, Singh can be said operate in a process akin to internet hypertext, drawing from myriad sources in a manner that is at once restless and contemplative. His exhibition A Gothic Tale (2019) combined his noir-esque short film The Appointment (2019) with an installation that made use of objects in the collection of San Francisco’s Legion of Honor. Exploring the gothic trope of the doppelgänger, the exhibition and the film both underline the key importance of narrative to the artist. Singh’s interest in storytelling, allusion and unlikely connections unites the multi-faceted elements of his oeuvre, with elaborate webs of intrigue that lead the viewer to question the difference between the original and its duplicate.
 

 

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019 
Digital film
19:50 min (excerpt)

Works
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010
37 framed inkjet ultrachrome archival prints and dotted pencil lines
Dimensions variable

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Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016
Seven objects on pedestals, sound and light installation
Dimensions variable. Audio 55:00 min

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Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
TB03, 2015

Alexandre Singh
TB03, 2015
Inkjet on paper
37 × 25.6 cm
14 5/8 × 10 inches

Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019
Digital film, 19:50 min

More views
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
KP005, 2019

Alexandre Singh
KP005, 2019
Oil on linen
204.5 × 85.1 cm
80,5 × 33,5 inches

Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
BOS, 2019

Alexandre Singh
BOS, 2019
Bronze and cement
49.5 × 28.6 × 11.4 cm
19 1/2 × 11 1/4 × 4 1/2 inches

Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013/14

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013–14
Single channel 4K video projection with 5.1 sound, 02:53 hours
Written and directed by Alexandre Singh

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Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
N, 2014

Alexandre Singh
N, 2014
Giclee print
142 x 114.4 cm (framed)
56 x 45 inches (framed)

Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014
With the participation of Flora Sans
Giclee print
113.5 × 82 cm (framed)
44 3/4 × 32 1/4 inches (framed)

More views
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013
Bronze
38 × 23 × 30 cm
15 × 9 × 11 7/8 inches

More views
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
The Oceans and the Land, 2013

Alexandre Singh
The Oceans and the Land, 2013
Wood, aluminum and Epson ultrachrome ink on Epson singleweight matte paper
30 × 30 × 41.5 cm
11 7/8 × 11 7/8 × 16 3/8 inches

Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Mixed media
33 framed work on paper, variable dimensions

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Details
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010
37 framed inkjet ultrachrome archival prints and dotted pencil lines
Dimensions variable

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Assembly Instructions (Concerning the Apparent Asymmetry of Time: Painting), 2010
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016
Seven objects on pedestals, sound and light installation
Dimensions variable. Audio 55:00 min

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE, 2016
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
TB03, 2015
Inkjet on paper
37 × 25.6 cm
14 5/8 × 10 inches

Alexandre Singh
TB03, 2015
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019
Digital film, 19:50 min

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
The Appointment, 2019
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
KP005, 2019
Oil on linen
204.5 × 85.1 cm
80,5 × 33,5 inches

Alexandre Singh
KP005, 2019
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
BOS, 2019
Bronze and cement
49.5 × 28.6 × 11.4 cm
19 1/2 × 11 1/4 × 4 1/2 inches

Alexandre Singh
BOS, 2019
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013–14
Single channel 4K video projection with 5.1 sound, 02:53 hours
Written and directed by Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013/14
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013–14 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013/14
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013–14 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
The Humans, 2013/14
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
N, 2014
Giclee print
142 x 114.4 cm (framed)
56 x 45 inches (framed)

Alexandre Singh
N, 2014
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014
With the participation of Flora Sans
Giclee print
113.5 × 82 cm (framed)
44 3/4 × 32 1/4 inches (framed)

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Male, 2014
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013
Bronze
38 × 23 × 30 cm
15 × 9 × 11 7/8 inches

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Hag, 2013
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The Oceans and the Land, 2013
Wood, aluminum and Epson ultrachrome ink on Epson singleweight matte paper
30 × 30 × 41.5 cm
11 7/8 × 11 7/8 × 16 3/8 inches

Alexandre Singh
The Oceans and the Land, 2013
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Mixed media
33 framed work on paper, variable dimensions

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016 (detail)

Alexandre Singh
Arsenic, 2016
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Alexandre Singh
Photo: Installation View: A Gothic Tale, Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, 2019/2020

Alexandre Singh
A Gothic Tale
Sep 7, 2019-June 28, 2020
Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco

Featuring a new film and installation by Alexandre Singh commissioned for the Legion of Honor, A Gothic Tale draws inspiration from the eponymous literary tradition of nineteenth-century Europe as well as San Francisco’s place in film noir history with Orson Welles’s The Lady from Shanghai (1947) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958).

Link
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
The School for Objects Criticized AE
April 30–June 25, 2016
Berlin

Alexandre Singh presents his installation The School for Objects Criticized AE. At first, it appears to be an elegant, theatrically-lit readymade installation in which seemingly banal objects – a bottle of bleach, a toaster, two cassette recorders, a derivative abstract sculpture, a stuffed skunk and a slinky toy – are presented on pedestals much like important historic sculptures are in museums. But the installation soon reveals itself to be an elaborate, dramatic set-up. With astonishment, viewers come to realize that not only can these inanimate objects speak, they also have dramatic, finely-contoured characters and fascinating relationships to one another.

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Alexandre Singh
The Humans
January 24–March 29, 2014
London

Alexandre Singh’s The Humans represents the culmination of years of study, writing, drawing and sculpting by the artist for the creation of a three-act theatre play. Commissioned by Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Performa 13, New York, Singh’s story unfolds amid an allegorical landscape: a mountain rises centre stage separating the realms of Charles Ray, the pontifical Apollonian sculptor, and N, the silent, agile Dionysiac Rabbit Queen. Seeking to introduce chaos into an otherwise orderly cosmos, Tophole, Charles Ray’s fretful son, and Pantalingua, N’s daughter and interpreter, plot to contaminate the sculptor’s perfect statues with the passions, desires and bodily functions of humans – cold stone made living flesh.

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Alexandre Singh
Alexandre Singh

Alexandre Singh
January 15–March 23, 2011
Berlin

Singh’s Assembly Instructions works, two of which are presented in the exhibition, visualize the artist’s fantastically woven stories in the form of wall-mounted, photocopied collages visually connected by dotted lines penciled directly onto gallery walls. Presented in both live form as public lectures using overhead projectors and transparencies, Singh’s narratives delve into diverse disciplines such as science, pseudo-science, industry, magic, business and art history; each element is linked to another producing unexpected congruencies and points of intersection.

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Press

Alexandre Singh on Gothic Literature, Cinema, and Storytelling
Art in America, interview by Rachel Wetzler, December 2019

In a Berlin Gallery, Art Critiques Itself
T Magazine, The New York Times Style Magazine, article by Hilary Moss, April 28, 2016

Alexandre Singh’s “The Humans”
Art Agenda, review by JJ Charlesworth, February 25, 2014

Alexandre Singh
Artforum, review by Allese Thomson, January 16, 2013

Alexandre Singh
Art Review, article by Martin Herbert, December 2011

 

Biography

Alexandre Singh (*1980, Bordeaux) lives in New York. Selected solo exhibitions include Legion of Honour, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (2019), Drawing Center, New York (2013), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2011), White Columns, New York (2009), Museu da Electricidade, Lisbon and Ballroom, Marfa (both 2008). Selected solo exhibitions include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015, 2012), Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuelle Kunst, Ghent (2015), The 12th Biennale de Lyon (2013–14), Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2012), Boston University Art Galleries (2012), The Hayward Gallery, London (2012), New Museum, New York (2010) and MoMA PS1, New York (2010, 2009, 2004).

Education
2006 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME
2003–05 School of Visual Arts, New York
1998–2001 Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2012–13 Artist Residency Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
2012 Prix Meurice 2012/2013, Paris
2011–12 La Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris
2011 Résidences Internationales aux Recollets, Paris
2009 Rema Hort Mann Visual Grant, New York
2007 Arts Council of England Grant, East International, Norwich Art Gallery
Public Collections
Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris
Frac des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York