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ALECHINSKY, PIERRE

Pierre Alechinsky was born in Brussels in 1927, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. At the age of 17 he began his studies in book illustration and typography at the School of Architecture and Applied Arts in Brussels. In 1945 he discovered the work of Michaux, Dubuffet and the Surrealists, who would influence him initially. In 1949 he made the acquaintance of the painter Christian Dotremon and joined the artist group CoBrA. The transnational avant-garde movement under the influence of Surrealism, developed an autonomous pictorial world and form of expressive figuration. Pierre Aleschinsky was very involved in the group and made a considerable contribution with the creation of the magazine CoBrA. The group, however, only lasted a few years and by 1953 it had already disbanded. As a result, Alechinsky moved to Paris. Through his interest in book illustration and calligraphy his affinity for paper developed further and it became his preferred pictorial support. In the 1950s, through his friendship with the Chinese-American poet and painter Walasse Ting, Alechinsky’s interest in East Asian painting and calligraphy was aroused, and he became very closely involved with this subject. After a trip to Japan in 1955 he changed his painting style. From predominantly abstract forms, he moved to a more representational and roughly painted figuration. These figures are influenced by Asian art, especially calligraphy. His work became lyrical, full of imagination and cultural notes, which clearly spanned both Western European and Asian cultures.

Pierre Alechinsky’s works have been exhibited internationally since the 1960s. He took part in two biennales in Venice and there were solo shows dedicated to his work in important institutions such as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 2007 an important retrospective was held at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels. In addition, in 1983 Alechinsky was named professor of painting at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris and in 1994 he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the Free University of Brussels. He received numerous prizes and honours, including one recently in 2018: the "Praemium Imperiale" art prize, which he received at the age of 90.

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