After building up a career in high-end fashion powerhouse brands, designer Alex Foxton decided to go back to basics: painting. Instead of dressing male models with stunning collections, he decided to uphold another mould for masculinity in his aesthetically pleasing artworks. We got a chance to speak with him about the importance of colour, following your own instincts, and the importance of overcoming a creativity block.
Although your passion is painting, you majored in fashion for both undergrad studies and masters; clearly, the decision paid off. What do you think would have happened if you just launched yourself directly into art instead of fashion?
I can’t imagine that. I was – and still am – so fascinated by clothes. I think that wherever you start, you end up dealing with the thing you are most interested in. For me, that’s male image.
I’m probably not the first to say this, but I love the colour palette of your pieces. You make the pastels seem bold and they create a subtle balance. You mentioned previously that you like using colours that are considered trashy; is there a particular reason for that? Why do you consider those colours trashy?
Colour is so subtle and unexplainable. In the beginning, I just wanted my paintings to be as immediate as possible and to provoke joy, and to hum. Colour was the most direct way of doing that. I don’t really think any colour is trashier than another but I liked the contrast between these melancholic or mysterious male figures and the colours I associated with sugar and plastic.
I’ve noticed that your pieces share male characters overcoming the typical mould for masculinity. Are you purposely challenging the ‘macho’ façade/stereotype?
I’m not consciously challenging anything; I just want to represent a specific kind of masculinity. Until recently, I didn’t see anything political in what I paint but I’ve been asked a few times to explain why I paint men the way I do – as sensual and expressive, like that isn’t a part of a man’s natural being. It’s funny that I have to justify that, as if it’s threatening.
Tarot 6 Le Bateleur.jpg
How do you feed your creativity? What, where or whom is your muse?
It doesn’t feel like feeding. It feels more like excavating. I do watch a lot of movies and go to museums and galleries, but when I find something that I want to use, it’s more a feeling of recognition than inspiration.
Most artists fear creativity block because it could turn into a game-changer for their careers; I wonder if, as an artist, you’ve ever reached this point. If you have, how did you handle it?
I have quite a few times… but never a real block. I guess I’ve been trained out of it. If you’ve worked in fashion for long enough, you know that you can’t afford to sit on your arse for more than three minutes. Having said that, there have definitely been times when everything I did looked dreadful. You just have to ride it out and keep working.
Do you have a fashion or art icon you aspire to be? If so, whom and why?
I have idols like Yves Saint Laurent, Alex Katz, or Brancusi, but you eventually realise that these people have never been anything but themselves. So, in a way, you don’t have a choice but to follow their example and be yourself.
“I think that wherever you start, you end up dealing with the thing you are most interested in. For me, that’s male image.”
You’ve found a way to complement your university degree with your career, unlike some artists, who deviate entirely from their original studies. Is there any constructive advice you can suggest for young artists struggling to live out their passions? As most students try to bury their talents in order to follow a ‘practical’ career, but risk sacrificing their happiness.
My advice is: just do what you like most, as you can always change it later. There are always going to be tough times but if you choose a career based purely on financial reward, then it will be tough times all the time.
What are you working on now? Would you explore other artistic fields, or will you remain painting for now?
I just put up an exhibition in Paris and had a small break, so I’m super excited to be back in the studio. I like this time when anything seems possible. I would love to make a film.
Do you plan on making a comeback in the fashion industry in the long run or do you see yourself thriving as a freelance artist for a few years?
I’m actually working part-time for Dior as a menswear designer, which has been incredible. Actually, what is great is doing the two things at the same time. They complement each other and neither has enough space to drive me crazy.
Alex Foxton Metalmagazine.jpg
Tarot 5 Lamoureux.jpg
Tarot 2 Le Monde.jpg
Tarot 10 La Maison Dieu.jpg
Cafe Pinson.jpg
Tarot 1 Le Mat.jpg