Pierre Alechinsky

Biography of Pierre Alechinsky

Still living and working today, Pierre Alechinsky (born 1927 in Brussels, Belgium) is renowned for his zealous involvement with the avant-garde movement, the Cobra, in the early 1950s. The Belgian abstract expressionist painter’s wonderfully abstract compositions, combining monochrome ink drawings and bright acrylics, are archetypal of the Cobra style that revolutionized modern art in Europe.


Even as a young student at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture et des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels, Pierre Alechinsky was hugely proactive when it came to his art. He was largely involved in the Jeune Peinture Belge group, often holding solo exhibitions around Brussels, and travelling to Paris in search of inspiration. From the end of his studies, Alechinsky devoted himself fully to the Cobra, organizing countless exhibitions and running the Cobra’s numerous publications.


Distinctive in Pierre Alechinksy’s work is his use of script as a means of pictorial expression, a style that he borrowed from fellow Cobra artists like Karel Appel and Asger Jorn. This interest in script lead him to explore Asian calligraphy, and he soon began using Japanese calligraphy in his work. As his career progressed, Alechinksy’s subject matter became increasingly bizarre, and somewhat supernatural: he used bright acrylics and sweeping, rounded brushstrokes alongside intricate details of shading and texture to create comical, almost other-worldly figures.


Since the 1960s, Pierre Alechinsky has primarily worked on paper, and continues to make printed editions and ink drawings today. His consistent use of bright, contrasting colors and his expressionist, almost childlike treatment of subject matter is still highly reminiscent of the Cobra style. Alechinsky’s work featured in the Venice Biennales in 1960 and 1972. He has had solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam 1963, and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, 2004. In 2007, the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels hosted a major retrospective of Alechinsky’s work. 

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