A Brief Introduction to the Work of Alex Sobolta

With remarks by O:JA&L Art Director JL Jacobs

In the Artist’s Own Words:

I’m an emerging artist living and working in Hoboken, New Jersey.  All my life I’ve sought outlets for creative self-expression through writing, drawing, painting, film and photography.  For the past five years, I’ve focused my efforts on honing my craft as a painter, working with oils and acrylics, primarily in abstract expressionistic styles.  Drawing inspiration from my own life, from events in the world at large, and from my insatiable curiosity and interest in world history, archaeology, cultural anthropology, natural history, science, politics, philosophy, the arts and humanities (the list goes on and on), my art is a meditation; a manifestation of my inspiration filtered subconsciously onto canvas.  I see art as a window and a mirror, revealing something deeply personal about the artist, while reflecting Truths universal to us all.

Howl by Alex Sobolta. Oil, acrylic, and ink on canvas. 30 x 24 inches.

Art Director’s Commentary:

Sobolta’s use of color and light are two things that first drew me into this painting. Throat-pink is a color you don’t see every day. In contrast to its startling novelty and unconventional warmth, he layers on a heavy black, a suggestion of rain, whose cold rivulet lines run the length of the painting in some cases, and, I am reminded of the line-lengths in Ginsberg’s poem of the same title, “Howl.” Frenzy of movement is everywhere, and Sobolta’s layering of color in this composition creates, nearly sculpts, its tense equilibrium. As he does in his piece “Command and Control,” Sobolta here sketches out a struggle, but the eventual outcome of this one, at first glance, seems less sure, perhaps with advantage to the darkness. And, yet, Solbolta has managed to intrude two centers of Rembrandt-like use of light into the painting that are remarkably skillful and that manage to successfully contradict the dark mood. One is at the top, and the other, most oddly placed, and therefore most surprising and effective, is just to the left of an exceedingly violent use of black. Among Sobolta’s strengths is his ability to harness as his engine of meaning these plausible contrasts and to evoke from them the believable tensions of opposites. In a painting where his red dots could be people in a detail from a larger hell, Sobolta suggests that, “starving, hysterical, naked” or not, we may all raise our collective howl in the face of it.

JL Jacobs
For O:JA&L

Command and Control by Alex Sobolta. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 20 x 16 inches.

Art Director’s Commentary:

When Alex Sobolta’s painting “Command and Control” came across my desk, I was drawn in not only by his use of a master’s technique but also by the way he gave that technique a new vitality. Given his title for this work, he intends to dialogue with Jackson Pollock on questions of “command and control,” questions of elements and techniques of expression. The way Sobolta uses color is the perfect frame for his argument. The red background makes his point precisely because it is behind everything, not on top. Colors yellow (light) and black (darkness) struggle against each other, but the bright yellow dances more lithely and flows in low relief like rivers above the fray. His spareness—what he has left out of this image— is part of what makes it work so well.

JL Jacobs, Art Director

I, Simuli by Alex Sobolta. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 30 x 24 inches.


Def Points by Alex Sobolta. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 48 x 36 inches.


The Upside Down by Alex Sobolta. Oil and acrylic on canvas panel. 24 x 18 inches.


About the Art Director:
JL Jacobs, MFA, Brown University, is the author of four volumes of poetry. Work has appeared in numerous journals including PloughsharesNew American WritingNew Orleans Review.  Representative work is anthologized in American Poetry: The Next Generation, Carnegie Mellon UP. She is currently a nominee for Poet Laureate of Oklahoma. She studied with John Yau and Keith Waldrop at Brown and has continued a Mixed-Media Artist practice from teaching Poetry&Image at Brown Learning Community to offering a workshops on Twaiku (Micro-poetry & Image) at upcoming OKC Literary Festival. She has offered her work from Coffeehouse Exhibits to Deep Step Come Shining with C.D. Wright & Deborah Luster, Poet’s Theatre, NYC.

Images: All Sobolta images are used here by permission.

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