There is a traditional painterly approach to painting in which the techniques and styles run the gamut from impressionism, surrealism and symbolism to neo-expressionism, postmodernism and so forth. These artists place figuration at the service of illustrative concerns, whether those interests are philosophical, spiritual, emotional, historical, anecdotal, mythical or symbolical. Paintings by Robert Sylvain, Sylla, Kristo (Christian Nicolas), Dominik Ambroise and Alpi (Alphonse Piard) generally fall into this category.
Looking at Alpi’s paintings is like leaping into a world of voluptuousness, lyricism and finesse — a world of the artist’s own making. At first, there is a feeling of being lost in a network of abstraction and even, at times, phantasmagoria. However, after an adaptation period, the images seem to progressively shift into focus and the contours become sharper until the eyes start to distinguish familiar shapes and recognizable objects. From what seemed at first to be a field of undefined elements, the mind soon begins to distinguish leaves, flowers, butterflies and occasionally human figures.
These known elements are rendered with such intricacy that instead of appearing out of place each is seen as a natural element of the whole. The most striking aspects of Alpi’s works are the minute details, neatness and graphic qualities of his imagery. One is mesmerized by his display of calligraphic virtuosity that reminds us of the works of Cy Twombly and Mark Tobey. His works also convey needlework of the highest skill, like in awe-inspiring embroidered pieces on skirts, bedcovers and tablecloths.
This is only one aspect of Alpi’s creations. As he admits, he produces paintings of different styles depending on his mood. At times, he completes a series of still lifes. Later on, he switches to landscapes until he is ready to do something else. No matter what stands on his easel, Alpi paints with the same passion for perfection, fine details and harmony between the different elements of the composition until the anticipated point of satisfaction is reached, leaving no possibility of adding even a dot.
“My work is all about using imageries to suggest a more complex reality that is conditioned upon personal aesthetic perception,” Alpi says. “Artistic expression in my work lies in its ability to absorb the spectators and elicit a response, a dialogue of sorts. This relation can come from the title of a piece, the colors used or the whole dynamics that the piece conveys.”
Contrary to Alpi’s paintings, in Dominik’s paintings viewers find themselves drawn into a vortex of colors, lines, emotions and jarring images. In one moment, people are assimilated to spellbound spectators looking in disbelief at human tides ready to engulf them. At other times, serene passersby safely witness various types of mass gatherings. In some paintings, the people she draws appear to be rather peaceful and even amorphous. In others, they exhibit characteristics of agitated crowds stirred up by some sort of collective hysteria as seen in mob riots, social upheavals, Mardi Gras and other public manifestations of that kind.
Dominik’s brush strokes are brisk and nervous, as though she is involved in a race against time. She is striving to harness fleeting moments, and consequently her gestures and colors appear as if being seen through a kaleidoscope, through which the images look shattered and broken. It is as though one is looking at live panoramic views depicted by the likes of Picasso (Cubism), Giacomo Balla (Futurism) or Wyndham Lewis (Vorticism). She manages in a glance to capture frenetic and rapid gestures in juxtaposed frames, succeeding in a motion picture-like continuum while also suggesting a certain allure and creating a related mood.
The complete article can be found in Issue #277 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.