ALEX KANEVSKY'S EXPRESSION OF TIME AND MOVEMENT

His paintings, despite having titles, do not usually have a linear narrative.

By Balthzar Malevolent

ALEX KANEVSKY'S EXPRESSION OF TIME AND MOVEMENT

Alex Kanevsky (born 1963) is a painter currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His works combine abstraction and figuration in multilayered portraits that capture movement and the constant flow of time, resisting adherence to a single moment. Kanevsky's work is rooted in the artistic traditions of Eastern Europe, where he grew up, and the United States, where he now lives.

Kanevsky's works are primarily concerned with the expression of time and movement. Taking the figure as his primary subject matter, the artist's abstracted versions of reality seek to convey his personal and particular worldview with “extreme clarity.” Exploring stillness and speed simultaneously, the artist displays a Futurist sensibility through his multilayered canvases. His compositions frequently juxtapose static, monumental objects with quick, expressive brushstrokes in order to suggest that people are defined by their motion and actions, rather than their physical place in the world.

Kanevsky's figures inhabit mysterious landscapes and ambiguous architecture that shift between the recognizable world and pure form and color. Nudes feature prominently in his oeuvre and are often depicted bathing, lying on beds or floors, or boldly facing the viewer. His paintings, despite having titles, do not usually have a linear narrative. Rather, the titles function as tools, “mostly to accomplish certain precise emotional climates [rather] than to tell a story.”

Kanevsky feels a deep connection to art history, especially to the masters of portraiture Rembrandt and Velázquez. His own artistic influences are wide-ranging, including objects, artists, writers, and thinkers. The influence of post-war figural painters such as Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon is evident in the artist's fleshy, abstracted figures. Meanwhile, the roots of Kanevsky's color can be found in the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Richard Diebenkorn, among others. Aside from admiring the paintings of American and European masters, the artist draws inspiration from the work of literary greats, such as Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Wallace Stevens, and Ezra Pound.

Kanevsky describes himself as a slow painter who must operate quickly to maintain a fresh approach to his work. Generally, he paints directly on birch plywood or stretched linen with various types of oil paint – Guerra, Mussini, Holbein, Rembrandt, Classic (Triangle Coatings) – and uses Liquin as a medium. The merging of figuration and abstraction in his artworks is the result of the process of erasure that Kanevsky employs. This technique of painting, rubbing out, and painting over results in a series of layers through which past iterations and experimentations are visible to the viewer.

Kanevsky paints both from life and photographs, with a preference for working with live models due to the importance of movement in his subjects. He often works with the same models for years, developing over time a strong sense of their individual form and motion. Alternatively, photography enables the artist explore fleeting situations, unintended artifacts, and imperfections.

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