Ben Alexy likes to juggle.  While that may seem like a moderately interesting endeavor, it’s the things he likes juggling that make him extraordinary.  The triptych he enjoys working with is “ambition in scale, concept and execution.”  His chosen profession is not that of a carnival sideman, he is a painter. 

His large-scale works combine realistic images atop abstract landscapes, which convey their meaning gracefully. The work Alexy is able to create can be enjoyed by a child, yet satisfy the most experienced art critic. It’s world-class, large in scale, ambitious and made in San Jose.

“Painting is about, in some ways, a competition amongst other artists,” says Alexy, who’s studio located at the Citadel in Martha’s Gardens in Downtown San Jose, is bursting with his canvases. 

When your work stands ten feet tall and approaches lengths that dwarf SUV’s, space is sometimes a problem. The paintings are strikingly original, and their sheer vastness demands attention.

Alexy focuses on critical moments in human development, sets them against a background of angular, abstract movements and paints his protagonists as they would exist in our real world. That translates to images like, “The Joy of Life,” which shows a man entering his twilight years, sword in hand, about to battle with a mounted Teutonic knight while floating in some kind of nebulous cloud, yet still bound by the laws of our familiar gravity.

Another one of his large-scale, multi-panel works, “Heaven, The Myth And Manifestation Of Absolute Happiness,” shows a group of kids spray-painting the word “heaven” on the side of a 70s Trans-Am. The original concept was to show the camaraderie shared by kids involved in skateboarding. It explains complex ideas about “this feeling you have of some kind of self-righteousness that you have when you’re younger and you’re doing something you believe in and everyone tells you it’s something not worth doing. But to you, it’s the most important thing in the world,” Alexy says.

Working on a large scale canvas creates unique challenges for Alexy.

“It’s just very physical, on the verge of feeling like sport sometimes,” he says.

The extra effort is not often lost among his audience, Alexy says. The scale isn’t just for the sake of size; it’s also an element that helps the artist translate human emotion more accurately.

“Having that much space helps me to really do action paintings,” Alexy says.

The images, frozen on the canvas, precipitate the idea of action. They sit somewhere on an obvious timeline that engages the viewer to ponder their past and future. That ability to engage the imagination is probably Ben Alexy’s greatest skill.

View Alexy’s artwork on his website,