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Alex Huthwohl


A selection from Alex Huthwohl's body of works.

Q: When do you see the soul of the person portrayed in the image?

A: When I paint faces and people, I keep asking myself questions about the nature of the subject. For me it's not about capturing the essence or the soul of a person, but about asking myself questions about how to represent a being. It is then that I use devices such as the isolation of an element, the fragmentation of the body but also the overlapping lines of features. So it is about trying to represent a body that evolves, that disappears, that moves. A body that mutates and is metamorphosed.

Q: How do you choose the moment in which to capture time in a still, non-moving image?

A: Precisely, the question of time is central in my work. Painting, as I practice it, imposes a fixed image. It is then a question of knowing how to get the viewer to create a story. I sometimes blur the lines in my paintings by creating oddities of perspective. It is also one of the devices that allows me to create a complex image that resembles painting while standing out from photography.

I use photographs, documents that I collect, or photos that I take of models that will be used to constitute my image. I like to take real shots to represent the characters because you can always be amazed by the form a body can take. My preparatory drawings are quite schematic and the bodies lack those details that make them so vivid and unexpected when depicted from a real shot.

Q: How would you describe the dynamic relation between the portrait artist and the person portrayed?

A: I think there is an obvious fascination that motivates the choice of a model. This one can be related to any kind of feeling: disgust, desire, incomprehension… For my part, many of my models are young men, fragile, masculine, thin, lost. When I want to talk about sexuality through my paintings, I am led to represent what is closer to my sexuality, out of sincerity. This is why there is a very masculine erotic universe.

Q: How does the construct of identity influence self-portraiture?

A: When I spoke previously of "being" and the means of representing it, there are of course also questions of identity that I try to highlight through my painting. I don't think I bring a particularly interesting look at sexual and social identity, nor are these subjects I want to take a look at. For me, it's more about seeing it in the broad sense of the constitution of an individual. When are we ourselves? What constitutes our individuality on the physical plane? These questions make it easier for me to weave a story into a painting.

Q: Can you describe your physical working method? Do you work standing, sitting, walking, ...? How does your working method help determine the image?

A: To arrive at the finality of a painting, there are a whole series of preliminary steps. First of all, I collect images, I look at paintings, make sketches, take quotes from books ... And from this material, I have desires, impulses, ideas that I will also note in my notebook. When an idea seems good, interesting to me, or when it is fairly recurrent (we can then speak of obsession) I then move on to the realization stage. For this, I select photographic documents, or take them myself and resume my sketches with these documents. Finally, I can move on to painting.

I sometimes change the process a little when necessary. And this way of working, although rigid, does not prevent me from being amazed at the end of each painting.

I am currently working on a reinterpretation of David and Goliath, tightening this into a painting of three meters by four approximately. The biggest I have ever made. There are twenty-one portraits of characters looking at the victorious hero.


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