California Dreaming

Subverting LA culture with Bret Easton Ellis and Alex Israel
Art | 2 February 2017

Top image: Fourth Tequila by Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, 2016. 

When the world-renowned author Bret Easton Ellis is not writing novels, interviewing the likes of Kanye West, Moby, Quentin Tarantino on his weekly podcast series or contributing to The New York Times and Vanity Fair, he’s making art with long-term collaborator and friend Alex Israel.

Both LA natives, the duo met when Israel interviewed Ellis for his deadpan YouTube show As it Lays in 2012. Ellis, author of The Rules of Attraction (1987), American Psycho (1991), and The Informers (1995) – all of which were made into films in the 2000s – and Israel a multimedia artist, known for his large scale paintings, discovered that they shared an obsession with popular media, Hollywood and the cult of the celebrity.


Ellis and Israel have since collaborated on a number of projects, including a series of text based art, which was first exhibited at the Gagosian in Beverly Hills in 2016 and is now heading to the gallery’s London outpost. The works feature stock-photos depicting sunsets, surf and aerial views of LA with suggestive text by Ellis superimposed over the top and set in Los Angelean fonts, fabricated at Warner Bros. by the production crews formerly responsible for hand-painting Hollywood film backdrops and Israel’s previous works.

The scale of the works are akin to a cinema screen, with the floating text resembling the credits of a feature film and each of Ellis’s captions suggests a larger narrative or overarching story, of which the viewer is given only a glimpse and where LA is both the backdrop and subject:“This isn’t a real relationship,” she told him, shrugging. “It’s showbiz.”

The exhibition opens at the Gagosian Gallery, London from 3rd February 2017 and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication. To mark the opening, Hans Ulrich Obrist will chair a talk with Israel and Ellis at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Albemarle Street, London on Friday, February 3rd, 2017 at 2pm.

© Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis; image courtesy iStock

ALEX ISRAEL / BRET EASTON ELLIS runs at Gagosian London from 3rd February – 18th March.


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