With three solo shows under his belt, Parisian painter and graduate with honours from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Alexandre Lenoir has captivated audiences with his stunningly unique paintings created from paint and tape. Now, with a new exhibition in the US, it's about time you became familiar with one of the art world's rising talents.
Held at the Almine Rech Gallery in New York, Alexandre's latest show titled Trois Rivières is the artist's first in the United States. Featuring an array of vivid, almost dreamlike paintings that appear to burst and peel off the canvas, this exhibition builds on his breakout solo show held with Almine, Paris, in 2020. And while sadly that show was somewhat scuppered by the pandemic, Trois Rivières promises to raise Alexandre's profile further.
If the paintings on display feel like they evoke long lost memories or remind you of snapshots of a time gone by, that's probably not a coincidence. Alexandre's paintings are based on old black-and-white photographs which used to decorate the walls and shelves of his grandparents' house in Guadeloupe. These photographs are then blown up and projected onto a canvas before being worked on with layers of paint and small stencils.
Working in the dark, Alexandre's images are consciously out of focus, which only serves to add to their effect. It's a fitting touch, too, considering that the artist isn't familiar with the subjects in the photographs. Just as they appear to be hazy, spectral figures to the audience, they are also people just out of reach in terms of familiarity for Alexandre.
Working rather like a printmaker, Alexandre prepares his canvases by covering the subjects with tape and then painting all around them with acrylics and oils. This technique of masking up certain areas while painting over exposed surfaces is repeated multiple times to build various colour separations. The result is a controlled, swirling mass of paint that bursts off the wall like an exploded piece of projector film.
Finished works can contain anywhere from 20 up to 100 coats of paint and thousands of pieces of masking tape. And as you'd expect, all of those oils and solvents result in chemical reactions that create holes and stains in the canvas. Rather than hiding these flaws, however, Alexandre embraces them. They represent incomplete, dying out, or distant memories. They also underscore the imperfect and sometimes brutal activity of remembering, which is at the heart of Trois Rivières.
To see these stunning images in person, visit the Trois Rivières exhibition at New York's Almine Rech Gallery until 23 October.