It is a struggle between chaos and control and what I am looking for is balance.
Inspired by experiments with paint poured over vibrating surfaces, Alex Voinea captures streams of color as if they were frozen in time and space. With an almost hyper-realist definition, the artist manages to evoke a hypnotizing sense of motion, fluidity and depth. Whether small drippings or large sweeping brushstrokes, his vivid, saturated colors seem to leap straight off the canvas.
Since early childhood, Alex Voinea knew he wanted to be a painter. Growing up in Romania, during the communist regime, however, limited him in pursuing his passion. It was only after participating in the revolution and subsequently leaving the country for Italy and later Spain, that he had the opportunity to actively pursue painting, to experiment and to develop his own distinctive style. We interviewed the artist to learn more about his artistic journey.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. Yes, ever since I can remember I knew I wanted to paint. Growing up in Romania during the Communist regime, there were not a lot of opportunities to pursue one’s dreams and after participating in the revolution, I was focused only on trying to get out of there. Once I finally made it to Italy I tried to paint, but it never came to anything as I had to make a living. With the help of a friend I learned how to be a decorative painter, painting houses, murals, etc. It was in those years that I discovered a whole new world of materials and techniques that I would later use in my art. Eventually, I moved to Spain where I finally had more time to experiment and develop my own style.
Q. Could you describe your process?
A. More often than not, I have an idea in advance of what I want to achieve with any given work. The final result, however, is the outcome of a dialogue that takes place while I work. At times, I get carried away by the momentum and the adrenaline of this kind of action painting. It is a very free form way of working and it allows me to completely disconnect and get lost in the moment. It is a struggle between chaos and control and what I am looking for is a balance.
Q. Your work is often extremely vibrant – what does color mean to you?
A. I like the
visual impact of color, it’s a way of somehow waking people up. I want the
viewer to get a shot of energy - this is what color does for me. I think one
understands or reacts to abstract work via the materials and color (or absence
thereof) and in the case of my work, it is color that attracts attention. The way I use it helps to give the sensation of movement and fluidity and
the illusion that the paint is flying off the canvas, which is the feeling
I want to transmit.
Q. Do you think art can contribute to change?
A. Let me answer this with a concrete demonstration of art’s power. I grew up under the Communist Regime of Ceaușescu in Romania that was overthrown via the revolution of 1989, in which I participated. The first thing which is censured under a dictatorship is art, like all other forms of free expression. Artists, whether they are visual artists, theater directors, poets, musicians, all are censored. It’s 'shut-up or stop creating altogether'. Why censor art if it isn’t powerful and capable of bringing about change or even revolution?
I think art has unbelievable power, and I can say this with certainty because I experience it. I know what I am capable of doing for art, the hours I can spend thinking about the things that move me, motivate me, I know how art makes me feel…I have been brought to tears by an artwork multiple times.
The first thing you must do if you want to be a good artist is to break the rules, be free - revolt!
Q. In your view, is the art world in need of a revolution?
A. Yes, absolutely. There is a closed circle which controls the art market made up of high-end art fairs, giant galleries and auction houses. We all know how they maneuver to get their artists into the best museums, private collections and foundations, how they control the artist’s production and prices (which inevitably impedes on their creativity and freedom). Just as in the world of politics or economics, there are a few superpowers that govern and control the art market. The big galleries have the power to completely change the destiny of an artist. They have formulas they use to place and establish their artists - from using auctions in which the gallery bids on its own work to raise the price, to the museums and foundations that participate in this spectacle giving credibility to artists from galleries they have agreements with, to the big art fairs that are almost impossible for smaller and mid-size galleries to get into. Of course, the art world cannot escape the desires and greed of humanity. It would be great if we could free the art world of these abusive formulas and guarantee that works don’t end up in giant high security warehouses never to be seen by the public, protected as if they were gold. All this I would like to see change. Perhaps social media is working towards freeing up the art world from this closed circle of control, perhaps they can help democratize the art world.
I am happy to not be a part of this system. My works are accessible and this is what art should be, accessible to all. I know my clients make a great effort to buy my works. In fact, I can’t tell you how many people have told me that my work was the first work they ever bought. I love this. This is what we need, this is what art and the art world should be - available to everyone.
Q. Are beauty and change connected for you?
A. This question perhaps requires a more philosophical response. Clearly, they are two very distinct concepts. Change is the only certainty that we have, it happens always, whether we like it or not. Beauty is more subjective, ephemeral and more difficult to fit into a concrete moment in time. If we are talking about beauty as “aesthetic” in art, in my opinion, they are very much connected because a true artist must always change; change one’s mind, change one’s technique, even change one’s concept of beauty. When we speak about beauty there are standards, canons, but they can always be redefined and the bravest artists are the ones who attempt this redefinition. There are many artworks in which beauty is disfigured or destroyed and a new type of beauty is created - this has been possible with the passage of time and the evolution of art and that’s change, no? The works of many artists in the past were not understood at first or seen as beautiful…look at Picasso or Bacon or other greats who dared to break the mold… they lived in the moment, they experienced personal changes that others didn’t understand.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
A. In my works I try to transmit the sensation of movement, fluidity and depth. I am obsessed with trying to give the feeling that the materials are jumping off the canvas, that color is floating in zero gravity. I love to see how people tend to stop and react to my work, often with surprise. Many of them tell me that my works transmit a sense of freedom. While that is not necessarily my direct intention, I love that people get that feeling from my work.
Q. Which other creatives, music, books or movies inspire you?
A. Many painters have influenced me over the years; Pollock and his drippings, Paul Jenkins and his use of large quantities of materials for example. Discovering the works of Kazuo Shiraga helped me lose some of my concerns in regards to painting and freed me in my form of expression - my gestures. While my tools are different, I think the visceral nature of our movements and gestures are similar.
I love to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I paint as they transmit to me the kind of energy that I want to transmit with my paintings.
Right now I
am obsessed with the books of Yuval Harari (“Sapiens”, “Homo Deus” and “21
Lessons for the 21st Century”). I think they should be required reading for
everyone. They have helped me understand our history and have given me
perspective and with knowledge comes independence or you could say “freedom”.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. Freedom - visceral - vivacious