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Les Associés



Pierre Alechinsky

Currently not on display
Acquired in 1960
Inventory number 2

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 3400 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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The Belgian artist Alechinsky has created a number of large shapes with long brushstrokes of paint in dark colours. They are linked together in a flowing movement and remain within the border of the canvas. The colours blue and green alternate with some yellow and a brownish red. Small, open circles are painted in various places; they look like eyes. They suggest that you are looking at living creatures.

In 1949 the young Pierre Alechinsky joined Cobra, a movement which had been founded a year earlier. In Belgium, artists in this movement were inspired by Surrealism. In this artistic field, the subconscious is an important inspiration. It is particularly the works in which automatic writing (écriture automatique) plays an important role that attracted a great deal of interest. From a young age, Alechinksy was fascinated by written script. He grew up left-handed at a time when you had to write with your right hand at school, and his mother was a graphologist. He said: “I like reading a painting just as a graphologist looks at handwriting.” The character and experiences of the creator should be legible in a work.

In the early 1950s Alechinsky came into contact with oriental calligraphy. An oriental calligrapher paints a piece of paper lying on the ground using his whole body to do so. Alechinsky experienced this method of working as having much more freedom than the western method in which the artist is seated on a chair at a table and makes only very limited movements. In his drawings and prints he started to use the oriental working method. Finally, he was also using the same freedom in his work in his paintings by 1965. At that point he exchanged his canvas for paper and oils for acrylic paints which dried much more quickly. The painting 'Les Associés' was created during a period when Alechinsky was still working in oils. With its long curved lines which alternate with the short strokes of a drawing, the work reflects his interest in script and movement.