André Brasilier is enjoying a renaissance. The 88-year old French artist has been the subject of renewed fandom in recent times, with prices for his works increasing twenty percent on the open market in the last two years.
Born in Saumur, France, to artistic parents—his father, Jacques was closely affiliated with the Symbolist movement, and his mother, Alice Chaumont, was a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London—Brasilier moved to Paris when he was 20 to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. At 23, he won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome, and at 29 he held his first solo exhibition of paintings, which focused on music, at the Grand Drouet.
A man of many talents and varied interests, Brasilier has exhibited all over the world, from France and Germany to Japan, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Korea, Hong Kong, and Russia. His travels have inspired many of his paintings, as well as ceramic pieces, mosaics, theatrical sets and book illustrations; and the sheer scope of his catalogue paired with the boggling scale of his output (more than one hundred solo exhibitions in twenty different countries) has earned Brasilier a great deal of well-deserved respect and acclaim.
Appropriately titled In New York, this new show marks Brasilier’s long-awaited return to New York City. A celebration of a stellar 66-year-long career, the exhibition will feature forty recent works alongside ten retrospective pieces from the artist’s private collection.
The works in the show are as wide-ranging and unique as the career of the man behind them, with explorations of everything from Expressionism through to Abstraction, and even the Japanese print art form of Edo, on display.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing André about his celebrated career, his return to New York, and his new show at Opera Gallery:
What drew you to art, initially? Was there a moment or an artist who inspired you to embark on your own artistic journey?
My parents were painters, so from a young age, I have always felt it was something that came naturally to me. I’ve been inspired by art since I was a child.
How have you grown as an artist, and how has your work evolved, over the course of your career?
Through my travels around the world and everyday life, I have found inspirations that allow me to touch people of different cultures, through my work, over the course of my career.
The inspirations that surround me through various points in my life—Mother Nature, my wife, and horses—have shaped my works.
Your work spans various modes, movements, and styles. What drives your artistic curiosity?
My artistic curiosity is driven by my passion for opening the viewers’ eyes to the non-obvious, in a relentless quest for intimate and cohesive humanism.
How would you describe your own art?
My art is a testimony to life and love. My paintings capture the emotion I want to share with viewers.
How do you approach a new piece? Does it feel easier now than when you were starting out, or is your process still much the same?
I am always in a state of painting, or so to speak. I carry a notepad to take notes, which help me quickly create a very assertive composition.
You live and work in France, but this new collection is showing in New York City. What sparked the return to New York after such a long time away?
I have a strong love for New York City. It is like no other city in the world.
One of my favourite museums in the world is Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Are there any pieces, either recent works or from the retrospective, that you’re especially fond of?
I made a large painting called ‘Midnight Bath’ that I kept for my private collection. I was very fond of this piece. It was exhibited at Opera Gallery Paris and sold to a private collector from the Caribbean.
I was happy this painting was sold to this collector and where they have placed it. I am now preparing a similar piece inspired by ‘Midnight Bath’ that I will keep for myself.
Has what art means to you evolved or shifted over time? Does it mean something different to you now than it did when you were just starting out?
What art means to me in life has always remained constant. I feel very strongly about people knowing about my continual love for life.
What inspires you? And do you find the work of any younger artists to be especially exciting?
I am so lucky to live with someone that inspires me endlessly, my wife, Chantal. I revolve around her, and she is my source of infinite inspiration.
I have so much respect for young artists who are finding their way – they continue to inspire and influence the people that are viewing them.
What are you moving towards? Are you working on anything new?
Life proposes constant new subjects for me and gives me emotions that I try to transmit into my paintings. I am constantly inspired by the world around me and am continuing to create every day.
Many thanks to André for taking the time to chat with us.
André Brasilier’s In New York opens at Opera Gallery’s New York location on October 12th and will run until November 12th.
Opera Gallery New York is located at 791 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, 10065.
You can find more information about André Brasilier here.
For more information about Opera Gallery, the exhibition and opening hours, visit operagallery.com.