Ponder, enjoy and bask in the surrealist paintings of Alfie Rouy
The London-based artist lavishes his artworks on meaning. However, it's up to you to decide what they're actually about – they're elusive and very much open to interpretation.
"Whenever I'm asked this, I always find it rather hard to answer," says Alfie Rouy, after we pose the age-old (and very important) question about his inspiration. "As, to be quite honest, I don't really know." Instead of referring to concrete sources, objects or experiences, the south London-based painter gets an "odd flash", often provoked when drawing from an illuminated manuscript or "from the way a plant spirals up and grows". Otherwise, he relies on his subconscious to create his imagery, and it's safe to say it's working wonders.
Fluid and abstract, Alfie's paintings could be likened to a modernised Dali for the twisted compositions and odd subject matter featured within. Yet through a distinctive amount of light and texture, the works appear digitalised – an airbrush-like effect achieved through the meticulous brushing of paint. "To start," he says of his process, "I always have in the back of my mind the message, idea, concept or philosophy I am trying to get across into the painting and onto the viewer. From there, I draw using my intuition to take me wherever it may be, before finalising it on the canvas." He works spontaneously, and the painting usually only gets figured out right at the end once the piece is technically finished. "I seem to find more of what I was trying to convey hidden in the creation of my subconscious."
Alfie's not long out of studying and graduated from Camberwell College of Arts last year. Ever since he's been focusing on his practice and has "fortunately" been involved in some exhibitions. Most recently, he exhibited as part of the group show called Tree and Leaf at London's Hannah Barry Gallery. Here, he showed a painting named For Now The Chest Has Opened, Seven Silvern Swirls Will Rise, one of his favourites to date. His reasons why are not only based on the fact that he likes the subject matter – a vibrant and angular snake on fire – but he also challenges himself artistically; he pushed himself to explore a deeper and more complex concept.
"Painting a burning snake was on my mind for a while," he notes. "There is the symbolism behind it that I feel with a bit of study can be figured out, but I'd rather not say exactly what it is behind it as I prefer people to come up with their own theories of what it is." Transformation, immortality and rebirth are a few ideas that come to mind, but ultimately it's for the audience to interpret. "One clue is that, like pretty much all of my work at the moment, it has a coherent theme of the evolution of the soul".
In another work titled Love is a Basket of Light, which is Alfie's latest, he's taken a "step forward" as he switched up his lighting choices. Swapping rounded light – the type that pushes his figures into an almost 3D-like formation – for a more concrete focus point, Alfie remarks how this gives the work more "life". He adds: "The white background was also a new idea that was a risk for me as it's colourless, but I felt it worked in the end due to the yellow rays of light."
There is something quite tranquil about Alfie's artistic style, despite the fact that you're not quite sure what's going on. However, that's precisely the point. His art is there to be pondered over and enjoyed. With plans to expand his messaging and take his concepts to new heights, we can expect more intricate and elusive works to come from this budding artist.