"A Modern Romantic"
As a child, Alain Hennequin already copied everything he saw. Despite his deep desire for a career as a painter, he was held back by family and professional constraints and only really began fulfilling his dream in retirement, which, happily, came relatively early. However, as early as his 28th birthday, his wife Annie (an intrinsic part and tireless supporter of his artwork) offered him a box of paints, which rapidly set him back on track. At first, the autodidact felt that his time spent working was wasted. Yet rapidly, his style was recognised as unique and he has exhibited regularly since the dawn of the 2000s. His first impulse was to experiment with oil pastels because he felt the need for a waxy medium. Watercolours followed, but he soon plumped for oil paints, with which he feels particularly comfortable. Early on, he was deeply inspired by Boudin’s skies, giving them great fluidity. Drawn to the supernatural and to ancient cities, he very soon turned to fantasy and to dramatising his artworks, in which the educated observer may see things that remain invisible to the eyes of many.
He works invariably accompanied by classical music, to the extent that he sometimes feels he is painting operas. Since the early 2000s, he has painted every day, often for ten or so hours in a row. He instinctively begins by applying colour because this is his driving force. Then, a story comes together and guides the artist, who puts limits on himself so as to keep as much freedom as possible. Books, too, have greatly nourished him, as have museums and exhibitions. Nothing stimulates progress like seeing the work of the greats, such as Turner, Zao Wou Ki, José-Luis Bustamante and Caspar David Friedrich, whose paintings have long encouraged and inspired him. Alain Hennequin readily paints series, relentlessly exploiting “the breath of light”. One such series, devoted to bridges, a symbol that has particularly interested him, did in fact expand substantially. He chose to draw it to a close with a very fine “Pont brisé” (“Broken Bridge”). With him, we are forever “on the brink of abstraction” and, as he points out, “at the fringe of the sea”, the ocean being within walking distance from his house. Techniques and supports can vary depending on his mood. Paper can replace canvas in which layers of paint may overlap in violet tones. These are highlighted with dabs of red and white that pierce the surface like daggers. On canvas, he applies paint with great finesse and extremely thickly, alternating between yellows and reds, or mauve tones with clear cut skylines and ethereal skies. Besides the aquatic world, the artist often explores minerals, mountains, and the earth’s depths, which may hide the unknown or explode into bursts of fire or magma. As his story unfolds, the artist likes to leave some areas impasto and rework a few veins or reliefs after having let the canvas rest as though it were bread dough rising. This is also an opportunity to brighten the work with a few touches of light. Similarly, movement is sought using sails, plays of transparency, or snow and clouds. The paint grows denser towards the canvas’s centre, tending to anchor it to the earth, whereas the sky becomes more fluid.
The ensemble has a grandiose, monumental element about it, with something cinematic about its a lack of freeze frames. The painting style is lively, seeking to show us what we can find beyond the visible. Holes and yawning voids have also punctuated Alain Hennequin’s journey, as have passageways, a theme that has in turn left a lasting mark. A mysterious passageway, both heavy and weightless at once, may lead to an evanescent palace that is either isolated out at sea or in ruins. The passageway represents a journey nourished by reading and literature, the artist being a great reader who chooses to give his artworks titles that are generally concise and efficient. The passageway also embodies light, which influences shapes and matter, is sculpted in ever new ways and left to express itself as much as possible. His artwork is always full of contrasts; between fluidity and density, light touches and uniform colours; between pure rock, which stands sharp and bright like steel in sunlight, and overlapping sails of varying opacity, hovering between light and chiaroscuro. This is artwork in which every brushstroke is developed, and gradually increases in strength and dynamism.
Elisabeth LE BORGNE, critique d'art
Du 31/03/2017 au 02/04/2017 :
FLAMANVILLE : 24è EDITION DU SALON "RAMPE ART" AU CHATEAU