Born in India, raised in England, Alexis Kersey returned to India at the age of nineteen and had to familiarise himself with the visual stimuli of a new landscape. Growing up in the U.K. in the 80s' and 90s', Kersey's artwork bore the imprint of the rave culture dominant at the time with its clandestine graffiti and club installations. "These were people who were making art for art's sake. There was never any money, it was all about the work itself, about doing ... it was simply meant to be experienced, to be responded to ..." Referencing the graffiti and the club scene his work had a strong graphic character and tended to be text based.
His work currently has an East-West eclecticism. Explaining the origins of the signature hybrid iconography in his art, Kersey says, "The only way I could engage with India unselfconsciously was through art. And so I began taking all these different visual elements - some that I had grown up with and others that I was encountering in India - and creating something that was familiar yet new. I wanted the work to be influenced with the same sense of displacement. I wanted it to explore the sense of identity in a way that is fun and contemporary."
The hand-painted billboard hoardings used in advertising, he saw all around, stood out. "In the U.K., handmade work is not so accessible." He started working with billboard painters in Mysore, who were creating street signage. Kersey started developing his work by adding graphic elements of the record covers he had done in the U.K., to these images. Over the years this has morphed into his signature 'Indian Pop' style. Using wide ranging references from British textile designs, Indian Company School paintings, religious calendar art, children's books illustrations, cinema posters, maps, calligraphy, mirrors, wood inlay, enamelling and oil painted backdrops, he uses these as metaphors through which to explore and present complex and often subversive narratives of globalization, consumerism and identity.
'Where's the Party Tonight?' bears the imprint of all that he tries to encompass; a successful meld of contemporary culture and traditional technique in a language that is quirky and unique.