Nov 17, 2016

Alex Kanevsky: The Painter's Painter

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Alex Kanevsky

To stare at Alex Kanevsky’s paintings is to feel uncertain. To ask more questions than you get answers. Even in their most complete form, hanging framed on the wall in front of you, the danger that he strives for in his work, as if the paintings may crash and burn with a single stroke, somehow remains.
‘Enervated and violent, blasé and passionate’, such contradictory terms often used in the same sentence to describe his work are apt.

Revered by painters and critics for his use of motion, light and colour within his predominantly figurative paintings, Kanevsky doesn’t seek to be defined by technique:

If my work has any recognizable traits, they are mostly a byproduct of always trying to be very clear and concise about my personal view of the world.

Yet it is this technique that brings acclaim and makes him sought by the type of collector who looks only to lose themselves in layer upon layer of this uncertainty. His works rarely make it to auction.

His creative process starts from an initial quick attempt to capture the emotional atmosphere of the subject. He then builds successive layers, intentionally leaving small gaps between each and changing colours and backgrounds as he adds. Often, he’ll completely change the position of his subject on each new layer, creating a sense of time, of motion and of expression. The entire process takes months to complete, adding to the sense of value to those lucky enough to own his work.

For a figurative artist, Kanevsky’s paintings invite interpretation and require significant involvement from the viewer in the creation of meaning. In his own words, an ‘unstable equilibrium’ and an incoherent pattern forces the viewer to find an interpretation that resonates with them. Perhaps it is this ever changing meaning and the constant search for new depths previously unnoticed that prevents collectors from parting with his works.

He describes painting as ‘the road with no end’ and the thrill of ‘functioning on the edge of his abilities.’ He talks of activities outside paintings as if a distraction: ‘sometimes pleasant, sometimes necessary, but thankfully always brief.’

And while it is his painting that attracts the most attention, his approach to drawing, a medium he fell back into after 15 years away, is worthy of notice. These drawings share that same sense of motion, of uncertainty, but they are not studies for his painting, they are works that stand alone.