Memphis artist Alex Paulus will show his paintings December 9th at Cohle Gallery in Paris.
“I just connected with them through Instagram,” says Paulus, 39. “They asked me to send some images of stuff I had available. I’m represented by three different galleries right now. A lot is promised to those galleries. I sent [Cohle] 10 images and they picked five that they liked."
He researched the Paris gallery to make sure it wasn’t a vanity gallery. “I always check ‘cause I get emails from galleries who say they found my stuff on Instagram, and they’ll say I have to pay a yearly fee to have it stuck in a show or something. So, I’m really aware of galleries like that.”
Paulus, who usually contacts artists represented by the gallery to make sure everything is legitimate, says that the work by Cohle Gallery artists is usually “really brightly colored or slightly poppy. I think some of the other artists they represent are street artists. One of them is just called ‘Nasty.’ ‘Monkey Bird’ is another. But then a lot of the others are real names.”
Paulus messaged the gallery and introduced himself. “They said they loved it and would send me an email about a show.”
That was just three weeks ago. He sent them 10 paintings, ranging from one he did in 2015 to one he painted a month ago. “My style has kind of bounced around from the sort of poppy, kind of cartoonish stuff, to a little more surreal,” he says.
One of his paintings is the whimsical “Just Enjoying Some Alone Time” which — discreetly — shows a man on a toilet. “I just get inspiration from different people. Like my friends or family saying things to me that jump out at me and I’ll put a note on it on my phone. It makes me think of a painting title or some kind of imagery I’ll be able to put into a painting. Other times I’ll get it from older movies or just weird lines in movies or TV shows that I’m watching.”
Asked where he got the idea for “Just Enjoying Some Alone Time,” Paulus says, “I think it was my brother. He’s got four kids and I think he likes to just go in there and read magazines and look at his phone for a while while to get a little alone time. I think a lot of people do that who have kids.”
“Fantastic Shot,” which shows the Fantastic Four playing golf, is a new work he sent, Paulus says. “I recently got really obsessed with these Marvel Masterpiece cards, like trading cards, from when I was younger.”
When the pandemic hit, I thought, “Maybe I could make some goofy Marvel paintings and make my own set of these. I only made five or six. I got burned out pretty quickly.”
A native of Perryville, Missouri, Paulus got his masters in 2009 from Memphis College of Art. He’s recently been working on some new ideas for different series of paintings, but he’s also been doing paintings of houses through realtor Morgan Pippin. “She gives them to her clients as gifts when they close on their house,” he says.
Paulus also teaches classes online at Southwest Tennessee Community College, where he is an assistant professor of fine arts. “I’ve been teaching at home since March. I have three classes that meet Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. And then I have two fully-online classes, where I email them and they work on stuff at home.”
Asked if he might use the name “Paulus Bunion — which he called himself when he performed as a one-man band 10 years ago — as his Cohle Gallery artist name, Paulus says, “I think I’ll leave that in the music scene.”