Alexis Lippstreu — Quintessentiel
Past: December 7, 2012 → January 12, 2013
Alexis Lippstreu (born 1972) began drawing compulsively about ten years ago. Anything he does not draw he remains silent about, and when he does express himself in response to a direct request he does so in breathy monosyllables that hang by a thread. He has never spoken about his motivations or the meaning of his creations. His autism raises his art to the level of mystery. The mystery is not, however, encumbered with the creator’s discourse, as is all too often the case; it leaves a broad margin for the viewer’s own projections. The invitation to project our own reading onto the work also requires us to remain circumspect, even humble, in commenting on it.
It is true that the particularity of Lippstreu’s work — “recreating” paintings by old masters — seems to offer the viewer keys that are all too obvious. However, works by da Vinci, Van Eyck, Degas, Gauguin, and others, are not simply the object of infinite variations in his work, but seem somehow to have rediscovered their substance. Only the bodies and faces seem worthy of being recreated with an almost supernatural presence; their backdrops and landscapes are at best handled as structural lines, or, more often, fade into a twilight storm of pencil shading. Picasso sought to push Vélasquez’s Las Meninas to the limits in a virtuoso exploration of artistic style; the simplicity of Lippstreu’s drawing heightens the humanity of the masterpieces he interprets, to the point that we see them in their pure essence — their quintessence. In parallel with the present exhibition, Alexis Lippstreu’s work will be on show in Liège at the MAD — coeditors of the catalogue — and the BAL, where his “recreations” of Gauguin’s Sorcier d’Hiva-Oa will be displayed alongside the original.
Opening Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 6 PM