With a side of rock n’ roll, by: Lisbon’s Alexandre Alonso
I am based in Lisbon, Portugal. I got my architecture degree back in 2001, a masters degree in large scale architecture in Barcelona in 2003, and consequently worked as an architect for 13 years . I was always more or less connected to artistic endeavours (mostly drawing), but never directly to painting, even less figurative painting. That started four years ago in a very unexpected way: I was challenged by three friends (thank you guys 🙂 ) to build their portraits. I instantly fell in love and never looked back.
My Artistic Process:
It usually starts with a photo session (in case I have the possibility to photograph the subject, which sometimes, due to geographic limitations, or subject availability, is quite a challenge). I end up with about 200 pictures of the subject, which are filtered down to roughly 10%. From those 10% I usually choose between two and five pictures to work with.
I usually never work from a single image, even if it’s a celebrity I couldn’t photograph or a specific picture someone gives me.
Then a rough sketch is made on the canvas and a blue wash is applied ( very thinly diluted oil paint). That is my backbone and I always start with blue. It sets my shadow’s tonal characteristics.
When the blue wash is dry, I apply the oil paint and the work develops around the eyes, always expanding from them. In a way they are my sun (if that makes any sense…)
The rest is just an accumulation of intentional thick brush strokes, unintentional ones and lots of corrected mistakes that in the end construct my interpretation of the subject.
There is no recipe nor linearity regarding the time it takes for the painting to build itself. They take a direction of their own, so in that sense, sometimes predicting how long they will take to finish is a very uncertain thing. I usually construct large scale canvases ( starting around 1 square meter) and those can take up to 1 month to build. Drying times as well, is something that affects very directly the progress of the work due to the heavy impastos, consequently In summer they dry much faster, so I paint more.
Discovering My Style:
When I first started, the only thing I was sure about (besides the fact I wanted to paint people) was that every work done by me, independently of the subject being portrayed, had to provoke enough interest to be something more than just a representation of a specific someone. There should be enough validity to it to stand by on its own as a work of art and not just a portrait. In that sense, and ironical enough, I treat every face/body as a landscape: I build very thick textures (like sculpting a terrain), complex colour schemes ( like a rich landscape) and intense shadow/light (like a breathable atmosphere).
I didn’t wanted to be purely representational because any photo camera com do that much, much better than anyone with a brush ( no matter how technically gifted they are).
As painters I think we have the obligation of offering a bit more than that.
Between all the commissions ( I do a lot of commissioned work), I started to explore different subjects, and I was naturally inclined to music, mostly because apart from my brushes, my paints and my canvas, the 4th ingredient is always a soundtrack playing very loud in the studio. It was just a matter of time
Music In My Art:
I wouldn’t say music is my focal point, but most surely right now a path I am loving to explore.
I lived the 90’s as a teen, and I’ve been playing the guitar since that moment which fed me with many heroes: people I deeply respect and admire who fuelled my whole life. I suppose was just a matter of time until I started to put them on a canvas.
My first was David Bowie. I remember when he died, it felt weird and awkwardly unreal. I got to my studio, I played few albums and I grabbed a small canvas (much smaller than the ones I usually work with). The next 3 days I build the work, and something really magical happened: I was so focused on finding his personality and likeness that when it was done, It felt somehow the painting has gained so much emotional depth that it was like I knew the person…there was a degree of intimacy that was developed during the process. That affected me very strongly because now I had a tool to finally ‘meet’ and somehow bring back all my heroes. On a very emotional level that culminated with the first painting I did when Chris Cornell died, which I keep very close to my heart.
Where My Art Has Been Featured:
Ive been featured in several publications, some tv interviews and a small documentary. Cristiano Ronaldo has one and I’ve been lucky enough to be represented in many important homes and private collections around the globe.
Where You Can Find Me:
my website: byalexandrealonso.com
I will personally answer to all messages, so feel free to drop me a few lines. It will be a pleasure to read them and help you out with any questions.
I want to thank all of you people that support my work. You allow me to do what I love the most and I cannot thank you enough for that. You make my life very special and I’m truly deeply thankful.
In collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra