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Alex Mendelssohn

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Name  Alex Mendelssohn

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Alex mendelssohn outback artist

Alex Mendelssohn (born 30 May 1935) is an Australian artist and opal miner of Hungarian descent. popularly known as Alex or his birth name Sándor Mendelssohn (variant of the name Alexander in Hungary). He is the great-great-grandson of Felix Mendelssohn, the Romantic German composer who gave the world the famous Wedding March overture.


In an interview with Adelaide Now (Sunday Mail September 2000) Alex Mendelssohn is quoted as saying "He (Felix Mendelssohn) composed on piano, and I compose on canvas," reflecting on his 200-year ancestry.

In another interview "His Colorful Life", he professed to Kristina Meredith of Country Press South Australia that he is a born rebel and an adventurer at heart. Alex migrated from war-worn Hungary in the early 1950s to mine for opal in the stark opal town of Andamooka where the famous Andamooka Opal or Queen's Opal was discovered in the 1950s and presented to Queen Elizabeth II.

For Alex Mendelssohn, the isolated outback community built upon red earth, nicknamed ‘Mars on Earth' presents the freedom he craves, far away from the shackles of politics, war, and bureaucracy of his early years. In a radio interview 6.30 with George Negus (28 June 2004) Alex Mendelssohn expressed the reason he calls Andamooka his home: "You're not controlled by councils and regulations and laws and rules. You do whatever you bloody like."

Style and Temperament

His ardour is reflected in his beloved themes of the eastern exotic, feminine form, clowns and music, spirit worlds, outer space, and landscape that occasionally yield to paintings of imaginary flowers in wild abandon. Journalist Alexandra Nowak (2008) described Alex Mendelssohn's art as spontaneous and wildly wonderful.

Alex started painting in 1973, sold his first painting for five dollars, and has since never ceased to paint. Painting consistently for over 38 years, Alex Mendelssohn’s prolific portfolio of artworks has exceeded 3000 pieces of oil paintings as of 2012, some of which he donated towards charitable causes, and many are in private collections mainly in the United States, Germany, and Australia.

In an interview with Jason Munn of The Monitor (15 August 2012), Alex Mendelssohn encourages experimentation in oil painting methodology: "I always tell my classes, you can use anything but the kitchen sink - I don't care what you use as long as you get results with it."

A self-taught artist who likes to share his oil painting techniques, Alex Mendelssohn believes that all human beings are born with a talent for something. "Some people go through their entire lives never realising the talent they had - but I try to give them a bit of encouragement which is very important."

A controversial artist, for his outspokenness against art critics who don’t paint and anti-art, Alex Mendelssohn was a regular guest on AZ TV 7, Phoenix Arizona from 2001 to 2009.

"Art critics often enquired whether I am still alive, as I think the value of my life’s work would be worth more when I am dead," Alex is fond of making caustic comments that draw reference to his age and mortality (Alex Mendelssohn celebrated his 77th birthday at the time of this article in 2012).

He is repulsed by the exorbitant art auction prices of dead artists, and was especially annoyed when Picasso's cubist painting of La Lecture, that featured Picasso's mistress asleep in an armchair, sold for $40.7million at a London auction house. Quoting verbatim in typical Alex Mendelssohn frankness "It's just torn apart bits of a woman."

Later Activities

In the year 2000, under the auspices of gallery director Nicole Allen, Alex Mendelssohn exhibited with the Manyung Gallery in Melbourne Australia, one of Victoria's oldest (Est. 1968) and largest contemporary art spaces, showcasing Australian paintings and sculpture.

In 2008, Alex Mendelsohn was one of 1,500 international artists chosen to exhibit his work at the New York International Artexpo, world’s largest fine art trade show that has hosted many of the world’s most renowned artists, including Andy Warhol, Peter Max, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Indiana, Keith Haring and Leroy Neiman. That year, the event held annually at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, was graced by Nelson Mendela as well British actress Jane Seymour.

On 14 October 2010, the Roxby Downs Art and Cultural Forum teamed up with Alex Mendelssohn to host public oil painting workshops. Other earlier workshops, among his many, was one on 17 May 2006 in support of "The Outback Fringe Festival". In April 2005, supported by the initiatives of Austrade and the Australian Consulate-General in Vietnam, Alex Mendelssohn was the sole artist to represent Australia in a three-day art exhibition at the Legion hotel Ho Chi Minh City.

In September 2007, Alex Mendelssohn was invited to the Beauty of A Bonzer Concert Party for Charity where he donated three of his paintings to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association - Desert Southwest Chapter, Arizona.

In April 2008, Alex Mendelssohn donated his painting entitled Venice to the 14th Annual Celebrity Fight Night in Scottsdale, Arizona, in honour of Muhammad Ali, featuring Live Auction items and star-studded live musical performances that raised funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute as the primary beneficiary.

Alex Mendelssohn has also painted for the celebrated virtuoso violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn who owns the legendary 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius violin.

Opalescent colours

Opalescent colours and bold tactual strokes are strong signatures in Alex Mendelssohn's abstract art. They seem to glow and take on a life of their own when displayed under the incandescent light for jewellery, very much like opal.

The intoxicating sense of freedom in the red land he calls home, and the colours of Andamookan opals inspire him, as much as his musical soul. His lifestyle in his own words: " do whatever you want to bloody do, and go wherever you want to bloody go. Free from all the bands and chains... It's a magnificent feeling."

Clowns and Musicians

As a child, Alex Mendelssohn was enchanted by his uncle Arnold Mendelssohn who was a musical virtuoso proficient with seven musical instruments and often performed as a circus musical clown. Alex remembers Sunday picnics at the park in Budapest before World War II where his Uncle Arnold would attract large crowds playing his music and clowning around. His family was largely artistic and musical and his aunt Edith Mendelssohn was a music director at the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music, Budapest in the 1930s.

Spirit world

Quote from Alex Mendelssohn in Big Planet: "Most of my work is spiritual. The spirits are definitely around us. And that drives us into a direction. When I am working on a spiritual painting, the spirit does the work. It is like someone having a vision that no one else can see. I can even talk to people while I am painting, but it is not me that is painting, I am only holding the brush. This does not happen every day. When it happens, the spirits and art become one."

Eternal female

According to Alex Mendelssohn, God was at the epitome of creativity with the creation of Woman. Married three times, Alex Mendelssohn exalts in the feminine figure that features in a large extent of his artwork.


Alex Mendelssohn Wikipedia