Skip to content Skip to navigation

Artist Information and Statement




Alexander de Cadenet lives and works in London. His artworks, often drawn from his own life experiences, offer insights into what gives 'meaning'. His works follow various traditions and universal themes in the history of art including Vanitas and the sacred role of art in communicating and expressing the philiosophical and spiritual dimensions.


"Alexander de Cadenet is a fascinatingly diverse restlessly experimental artist. Taken together, what the different series [of work] add up to is a meditation on the role of the artist and the possibilities open to him (or her) in contemporary society".     Edward Lucie-Smith




Tarnya Cooper, Chief Curator, National Portrait Gallery London, wrote, “Looking at the heads as a set, we realize that should we learn to read these images, these reflections could easily be as distinctive as conventional portraits. These images are memorials before death, not designed to service the soul on a journey elsewhere but in part to awaken our sense to our own living corporeality. They do not record loss but reveal life. Each head representing an unveiling of human form and uniquely informing the subject of their internal self, while allowing the viewer a certain level of contemplation without the pathos of earlier vanitas. In this sense these works act as a celebration of existence while simultaneously questioning the value of worldly endeavour by providing a view of the unseen, the potential remnant of our physical being. This emotive dynamic between the commemoration of lives and the unseen physicality of the skull is part of the draw of this set of work” (1999).


Melanie McGrath, writing about the British Spies Series, wrote, "Like altarpieces, their renderings of physical mortality areallied with a spiritual consciousness, a hint at the immortality of the soul. The idea represented in both is of mysteries implied but not revealed, surfaces that are not simply surfaces but containers of ultimate significance" (2003).


Megakles Rokos, Curator American College of Greece, wrote, “De Cadenet’s art is an intersection between the tangible and the intangible. Tangible is the physical x-ray with its record of the bony cranium. Intangible is the metaphysical dimension of the soul that remains invisible and unrecordable. Through the perspective of the x-rayed skull de Cadenet offers an experience that is essentially beyond natural portraiture” (2006).


Oliver Basciano, deputy editor of Art Review, wrote on the skull portraits and meteorite sculptures, “The artist asks us, not to consider the cosmic and metaphorical in opposition to the ordinary, but as being part of it, integral to it". (2010)   


Sarah Wilson, Head of Modern Art at Courtauld Institute of Art, wrote, "De Cadenet’s Skull Portraits re-energise the long histories of the painted vanitas….There is a ghoulish humour in de Cadenet’s jest with the skull image: these will persist, of course long after we become crematorium dust" (2010). 


Richard Dyer, News Editor of Contemporary Magazine and Editor of Third Text, wrote, "Meditations on our engagement with the darker aspects of our relationship to the human such a way that we can place ourselves at the heart of the artist's negatives of everyday life transformed by the inversion process in such a way as to draw out the profoundly spiritual and unique resonance of those moments for the artist" (2014).


Edward Lucie Smith, "The Life-Burgers seem the culmination of the artist's journey towards a full engagement with society and offer a commentary on the vanity and essentail self-deception of contemporary urban society, with its lust, more pronounced than ever in its upper reaches – for expensive toys. Extremely amusing and elegant as objects and made from luxurious materials, these are in tact the equivalents of the Dance of Death woodcuts produced in the third decade of the sixteenth century by Hans Holbein the Elder". (2016)