Pierre Alechinsky

Dynamic, bright and cheerful: Alechinsky loves to paint. An insight in some of his works in our March 2023 auction.

Pierre Alechinsky

"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)

Lot 342. Ton nez s'allonge (1970) - Est. €190.000-240.000

Ton nez s'allonge

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 elegant and smooth, sometimes he applies brusque, heavy brush strokes. 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.

A force is contained within the dynamic composition, evoking a hallucinatory scene. Lines tangle tentacle-like across the canvas. Visionary figures emerge in full intensity from the artist's fantasy. They arise from the depths of an ink-black night or navy blue waters. Despite their ugliness, the tronies that appear are vulnerable, pitiful and even guilty. The fleshy pink hues suggest a transparency that is almost luminous, in contrast to the darkness from which they grew.

Alechinsky 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. In "Ton nez s'allonge" Alechinsky alludes to a caught lie. 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.

Lot 342. See detail

Eye on Japan

Encouraged by Christian Dotremont (1922-1979), Pierre Alechinsky (° 1927) undertook a trip to Japan in the mid-1950s. The East inspired him immensely, so he searched in his oeuvre for a bridge between the painterly traditions of East and West. Driven by his fascination for calligraphy, he handled a new medium: acrylic paint. This enabled him to work more fluently and to paint writerly, just like Chinese ink.

Both materials and techniques used in Japan appealed to Alechinsky’s imagination. Following his journey, he will place his paper or canvas on the ground and take a standing and bent posture during the painting process. The artist's mobility was completely freed and he could devote himself fully to his task. The capriciousness of lines and brush strokes express feelings of joy, fears, doubts and uncertainties. The pleasure of painting reflects through the composition.     

Lot 458. Poste d'observation (1987) - Est. € 100.000-140.000

Poste d'observation

Alechinsky provides the composition of “Poste d'observation” with a broad border. The wild creature that the artist has created must be restrained. The framing isolates the little monster in its own world and keeps the tangle of lines within bounds. But at the same time the border is an echo of the central idea. It is the margin where the story unfolds and where there is space for imagination.

Lot 458. See detail

Alechinsky & engraving

The same vigour, which Alechinsky displays in his acrylic works, is reflected in his graphic works. He uses lavender oil in the printing process. He dips his brush into it and, thanks to the lavender, draws directly onto the copper, which is covered with a light coat of bitumen-based varnish. The oil immediately frees the drawing. It allows great freedom of movement as well as easy additions or omissions.

Lot 406. Vaincu parce que plus fort (1980) - Est. € 12.000-16.000

Lot 466. Hors saison (1988) - Est. € 10.000-14.000