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Pierre Alechinsky (Belgian, b.1927)


Pierre Alechinsky (b. October 19, 1927 - ) is a Belgian artist who is known for his powerful and distinguishable brushstrokes that move between the abstract and the figurative. He was born in Brussels, where he studied book illustration and typography at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et des Arts Décoratifs from 1944 to 1948.

He was an original member of COBRA, an international group of Danish, Dutch, and Belgian artists active from 1948 through 1952. The founding members of the group included notable artists Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, Asger Jorn, and Joseph Noiret. The movement distinguished itself through bold, expressive compositions influenced by folk and children's art. Alechinsky and the members had a common desire to break away from the current art movements of the day and to create a new school of art that emphasized creative diversity.

In 1951, Alechinsky moved to Paris to study engraving, and it was there that he developed a strong interest in the art of calligraphy and even became the the Paris correspondent for the Japanese journal Bokubi (the joy of ink). To study the art form, Alechinsky left for Japan with his wife in 1955. The next year, he exhibited Calligraphie japonaise, a film about Japanese calligraphers. He adopted many of their techniques and practices into his own work, including the way in which they place paper on the floor and bend over, involving their whole bodies in their art.

His subject matter began to evolve in the later 1950s, using brightly colored paint to create humorously deformed animals and creatures communicating with one another. These images are reminiscent of the fantastical environments created by the great Flemish artist Hieronymous Bosch, and to whom Alechinsky frequently references in his paintings.

His later work refers to medieval pictorial illustration, inspired by his early training as a student in Brussels. Although much of Alechinsky’s artistic career spans a wide range of media, from painting and prints to poetry and film, he has worked primarily on paper since the 1960s.

Alechinsky was a professor of painting from 1983 to 1987 at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris. His work has been included in several solo and group exhibitions around the world, and in 2007, the Museés royaux de beaux-arts de Belgique, Brussels, held a major retrospective of his work. He continues to live and work in Paris.

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