L'invention de la brouette (1974)
Acrylic on paper on canvas - Sig. and sig. on the reverse "Sundsvall (S) 1974" with title - 154 x 228 cm - Labels on the reverse
Gal. Van de Loo, München
Simoens Gal., Antwerp
FREEDOM AND HAPPINESS
"Would I start? Would I start with small lines, small crosses, small dots, with a big thing going from there to there, with a big spot that would watch me, with an idea? Would I start by stroking the canvas because I dream it's already finished? No, I'm starting." (Alechinsky, Paris, September 1953)
And so Alechinsky starts this extraordinary work. He casually follows his feeling while he applies the acrylic to the canvas. The artist gives free rein to his hand: sometimes the lines are calm and elegant in warm ocher, sometimes he applies brusque, heavy brush strokes in bright blue and green. It is this same hand that tells Alechinsky's fantastic stories and gives expression to the world as he experiences it. The result is a painting bursting with spontaneous energy. The gesture is explicitly present as an expressive tool, reminiscent of American abstract expressionism rather than of Cobra
The painting is a joyful color play evoking instant delight and cheerfulness. But coincidence and the subconscious also have an important role: the images veiled by the splendor of color are not at all unambiguous. Fortunately Alechinsky also loves to play with language, as illustrated by the poetic title which pushes us more or less in the direction of the painting's story. Furthermore, we, as spectator, are challenged to use our own creativity and thus contribute to the creation of the final image. The image of the artist also becomes the image of the viewer.
"L'invention de la brouette" is the title of this oeuvre majeure so to say in the words of the artist himself. Alechinsky does not make it easy for us as viewers. We can indeed see some wheels. Do the lines form a wheelbarrow? Does the mysterious head at the bottom represent the inventor? Maybe the artist wants to tell us about the invention of the wheel and he mingles title and image as a totum pro parte. Or maybe there is another approach that has to do with Alechinsky's trip to Lapland in 1974, where he makes this painting in the studio of his friend Bengt Lindström in Sundsvall (Sweden). The local stories and legends - which he loves so much - have certainly reached his ears and must have when creating this image. After all, it is up to the viewer and his imagination to complete the story.