On Paintings

Or: A Monster Treatise On The Nature Of Art And It’s Cultural (And Spiritual) Significance.

Are you ready? Our supposition is thus: 


Anyone with a blank wall can be an art collector. Our job is to find the art you can’t live without.


A bold (if worthy) statement, and aspiration. But where to begin?

It was a dark and stormy night…

You fall in love listening to music. You fight (and make up) over what to watch next on Netflix. We dance when we don’t want to be alone. We photograph the moments we want to remember, and the moments we should never forget. 

We communicate. We express. We allow ourselves be moved by forces we don’t fully understand. We’re people. It’s what we do, and what we’ve always done.

No-one will ever convince me this wasn't great art. Photograph: © Reuters 

As a species, we invented fire, we invented art, and we invented the wheel, in that order. It’s no exaggeration to say arts really are about as fundamental as it gets.

Whether it’s quietly reading a book on a train, or spending five days tits to the wind at Burning Man, the arts are what we’re hardwired to enjoy. Our brains are literally built that way.

 

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

― Pablo Picasso

 

The problem is that life gets in the way. At some point you’re told to pack that part of you away, and focus on doing something ‘proper’. Something that’s going to pay the bills and put a roof over your head. 

(Because my God imagine if you ended up like The Rolling Stones or Beyonce, drowning in caviar and private jets.) 

Pray for Mick. Photograph: © Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage  

So why paintings? 

Paintings are a distillation. A novel might take hundreds of pages and thousands of words to make itself heard. A movie? Multiple hours at 24 frames per second. Even your favourite song still needs a preamble to tee itself up. 

Paintings are singular, solitary, haunting perfections. (Haunting memorable; not haunting ouija boards/Victorian children. Calm down.) They’re symphonies in the click of a finger. 

Paintings are the stripped-back essence of clarity; a lightning rod, distilled into a single moment. 

But; a lightning rod to what, you ask? 

43,000 years old: these handprints in Indonesia are amongst the oldest examples of figurative art is existence. Photograph: © CC BY-SA 3.0

Everything that we’ve achieved is off the back of our ability to dream. Artwork - whether it’s singing or dancing or painting - is a lightning rod that connects us d"irectly and intimately to that primal source. It’s a connection to a time when anything was possible, in a way that can’t be explained or felt in any other way. 

 

"If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint."

— Edward Hopper

 

We all know the image of Muhammed Ali stood in victory over Sonny Liston. There are a million ways to fill in the blanks and give you the context, but the power is in the image and its connection to the moment.

Photographer Neil Leifer captures lighting in a bottle at 01:44 of the first round, on the evening of May 25th 1965. Photograph: © Sports Illustrated 

Remnants of this connection reach out to us  in our everyday langue. I need you to colour outside the lines. Paint me a picture, etc. 

But we’re precariously in danger of loosing that connection altogether. 

So that’s why paintings.

So what’s our role in all of this? 

The art world is a mess. It’s possibly the last legal enterprise completely shrouded in mystery and utterly opaque to onlookers. 

I can count on one hand the number of people who could confidently walk into any art gallery, which is both depressing, and exactly how the gate-keepers and the taste-makers of the art world want it. 

Our mission is to find the best art we possibly can, and make it available to everyone; by cultivating and curating insanely great artists and making it the easiest, most bullshit-free thing in the world to open your phone and see what we’ve got. 

Our credentials:

Gallery 1.0, circa 2016, prior to being strong-armed into a pretty disastrous move. Photograph: © Alexander Miles

Yours truly (me - Alex - hi) has been doing this for almost 20 years now, and we work with artists who’ve been doing this for triple that. I’ve sold over three million quids worth of paintings, and turned down fifty times more that didn’t cut the mustard. (You could fill galleries with artists I deemed not up to scratch; worse dealers than I gleefully do.)

Customers need support because the art world’s an impenetrable mess. You want something fantastic on your wall, and straight talking help without the nonsense is just the ticket. 

Meanwhile, artists need our help because nobody is an island, no matter how sexy it might be to imagine a tortured genius creating in isolation. 

"I'm a bloody island. I'm bloody Ibiza." Hugh Grant in About A Boy. Image: © Universal Pictures

Michelangelo is the quintessential example of an artist who blossomed amongst a rogues gallery of supporters. His beginning work on David at the age of 26 didn’t occur in a vacuum; without the backing of the Arte della Lana, or patronage of the Medici family in his early career, works like David and the Sistine Chapel's ceiling simply wouldn’t exist.

Steven Spielberg was the same age (26) when he directed Jaws. Neither man would work alone. Image: © Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images

Vincent van Gogh was the same. Vincent produced a number of his most notable and renowned works from the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy, but who paid for Vincent’s year long stay? It was Vincent’s brother Theo, who couldn’t bear to see his brother committed to a larger institution in Marseille. 

No Theo? No Vincent. Image: Public Domain

Even famed misanthrope and miserable bastard Edward Hopper relied on the generosity his wife. A talented and successful artist in her own right, Josephine Nivison brought structure and focus to her husband’s practice. Rigorously documenting Edward’s work, Jo served as his primary model, alongside managing his career while neglecting her own. 

One of many notebooks Josephine would fill with her recordings. Edward would repay her by being aloof and withdrawn. Image: © Scott Elmquist

The fact is, it takes a village, and everybody needs somebody. Unfortunately, most galleries are terrible at this. Whether it’s ignoring artists and leaving them to get on with it, or not being honest when work doesn’t hit the mark, the majority of galleries take a hands off approach and pray for the best. 

Pictured: everybody needing somebody. Image: © Universal Pictures

Good artists admit to bad work, because bad artists only admit to good work.

I’ll bang this drum till the day I die. The golden goose doesn’t lay a golden egg every time, and I’m sorry but DeMontfort Fine Art don’t do Bob Dylan or their customers any favours by pretending he can paint, and should hang their heads in shame.

Mea culpa: We’re not perfect, and have been guilty of failing artists in the past, horrendously in some cases. The fact is, however,  that artists and galleries and - ultimately - anyone who wants enjoy paintings, benefits from a system that’s robust in it’s intentions towards building a better version of this thing that works for everyone.

And that’s exactly what you see every time you look at one of our paintings. 

I need to shut up so you can get back to the artwork. So, to summarise: 

The art world’s a mess, and we’re either going to kick it square in it’s nuts, or die trying.

Welcome to alexandermiles.art folks. 

Alex 

(passionate art idiot)  

 

FAQs

Didn’t you used to have a gallery in St.Katharine Docks?

We DID! Two, in fact. They were our wonderful, moon-shot, swing-for-the-fences efforts at a gallery anyone could walk into and enjoy, bang in the middle of central London. Eventually we got mullered out of existence by the rent & rates, just in time for the pandemic - good timing. That’s not the end of bricks & mortar for us. We’re regrouping online & still have big plans for what galleries can be. It’s an evolving effort, so watch his space. 

Gallery 2.0, AKA the moon-shot that nearly killed me. Circa 2018. Photograph: © Alexander Miles 

 

Why did this website take so long? 

Good question. Mainly depression. Closing a gallery knocks the wind of your sails.

But also; galleries are terrified of websites, not realising they can offer something galleries can’t. Customers are only going to win if you embrace the whole thing, so we wanted our first step in this more holistic direction to be more than your standard pictures-and-prices, cut-and-paste website. And that, boys, takes some doing.

 

So there’ll be a new gallery at some point? 

Thats the plan. We’ve got big plans for the hotel sites we’re displaying in, the website and a new gallery, so watch this space. 

The Cavendish Hotel in Mayfair, where a selection of our limited editions are hun in their 1st floor bar & lounge. Photograph: © CapitaLand

 

Why are your pictures so expensive? 

If you’re asking that, we haven’t done our job properly. Artists are besieged, defending their prices in a way that sweatshop-labour enthusiasts like Prada and Christian Dior never ever have to. That’s on us. It’s the job of art dealers everywhere to shine a light onto the insane levels of work that go into painting at a professional level. I don’t think anybody’s properly cracked that nut yet. You’ll be seeing a lot more about this on our website in the future. For now, we can only apologise: we see the amount of work that goes into these thing, the artists see the amount of work that goes in. We need to do a better job of making sure you do too. 

 

I reckon I could paint that 

Great! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we sell paintings. (Wild, right?) Anyhow - send us some examples of your work and we’ll take a look.