Thursday, January 10, 2019

Art Deco Style meets Classic Auto Design

Alain and his Camero, Courtesy of http://www.alainlevesque.ca


Alain Lévesque from Hemmings Classic Car


February, 2010 - Mark J. McCourt


Alain working on one of his classic pieces
Alain working on one of his classic pieces
In the wide spectrum of talented artists, only a handful have developed an instantly recognizable, totally unique style that is incomparably their own. In the focused world of automotive fine art, there is no one who paints like Québec, Canada, native Alain Lévesque, and because of this, his art is sought and celebrated around the world.

"I was very young when I first became interested in automobiles, probably four or five," he recalls. "It was well before I started school. It was probably because my father was so enthusiastic about automobiles; this could have been how I tried to capture my parents' interest. I had a hard time finishing my schoolwork because I was drawing cars in my books. My friends asked me all the time, 'Hey Alain, draw me a Corvette, draw me a Ferrari.'"

Alain pursued graphic design in college, studying at the Université du Québec in Montréal in the 1980s. He later went to work for a publishing company, creating numerous acclaimed poster designs for events like the Montréal World Film Festival and the Americas Cycling Grand Prix.

A 1989 work trip provided the seed that would start him on a new track, one that combined his talent with his passion. "I found an automotive art gallery in the St. James area of London; I'd never seen an art gallery with this specialty before, and seeing these paintings and sculptures--this was the first time that I associated art and automobiles. I was really amazed, it was like a parallel world for me," he explains.

The gallery's owner, Simon Khachadourian, soon commissioned Alain to produce two pieces; the artist returned to London six months later to deliver them. "It was quite exciting for me to get into this world and realize that it was possible to live as an artist with the automobile as my main subject." Alain also soon found representation closer to home, beginning a 20-year working relationship with Jacques Vaucher and his l'art et l'automobile galleries in America.

l'art et l'automobile large poster by Alain  Lévesque. available at arteauto.com
l'art et l'automobile large poster by Alain 
Lévesque. Available at arteauto.com
It was Khachadourian who first made Alain aware of a major influence behind his trademark abstract interpretive style: "My style is well established now, but I had to work hard to get there--I was developing it at university. Mr. Khachadourian told me my pieces were typical of 'Italian Futurism.' I wasn't really conscious as to the root of my style, and he told me about this art movement, explaining that it was part of the avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century, like the Bauhaus and Cubist movements of the same period. Cubism is well known, and I knew a lot of attention has been paid to Bauhaus because of its importance in avant-garde, but not much is said about Italian Futurism, especially in Europe, due to its political connection with Mussolini. We don't have the same reflections here in North America.

"Mr. Khachadourian offered me a huge reference book on Italian Futurism, and from that I realized how deeply I was inspired by this without knowing it; I developed my style from there more consciously," he continues. "I'd rather be expressive than descriptive. To me, the interest is in the way the subject is treated, rather than in the subject itself. That my work appears as a total abstraction does not bother me, as long as it is able to communicate an idea. The automobile becomes a pretext to create."

Many of Alain's recent pieces have been commissioned, so the first step for him is to learn about the particular car in question before starting his design. "I have to ask the client or representative to tell me about the car's era, where it was created and who owned it. From there, I'll do two or three rough pencil drawings that I send to the client to give him a wide spectrum of options. He might like some of the first with a bit of the third, so I'll construct a new image, this time painted in color using gouache, to give him an idea of the palette. When he agrees with the design and canvas, I move on to the final thing.

Jacques Vaucher, owner of l'art et l'automobile, stands next to one of Alain's works, A room divider detailing a classic Bugatti Dashboard.  Available at arteauto.com
Jacques Vaucher, owner of l'art et l'automobile, stands next to one of Alain's works, A room divider detailing a classic Bugatti Dashboard.  Available at arteauto.com

"For years, I worked with gouache and airbrush. I still use the airbrush technique, as it's a good tool for strong graphic designs. I now sometimes use acrylic, but more and more, I prefer working in oil paint because of the quality of the rendering of the shades. Oil is so rich in terms of color, and it gives you the opportunity to work with the shading over a long period of time--more so than acrylic, which dries very quickly," he explains.

Because of his unique style and vision, Alain has been a favorite of concours organizers when it comes to creating original artwork. He has painted at the request of automakers like Porsche and Daimler-Chrysler, has exhibited at Detroit's Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance since 1995, and has even exhibited alongside the Automotive Fine Arts Society at their annual show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Despite these prestigious showings and commissions, he continues to challenge himself with new and different themes: "My goal is to convey the essence of the automobile, not to illustrate it."

De Soto
"This piece was commissioned by Barrett-Jackson in 2003. They asked me to create an image inspired by typical American fins, a witness of what was the glorious bold American automobile industry era."
1963 Riviera
"Among the masterpieces of Bill Mitchell's legacy, with the Sting Ray and the Toronado, the Riviera's powerful personality makes you feel like you can almost have a conversation with her."
1956 Lincoln
"Working on a commissioned painting of the mighty Batmobile, I felt that I had to return to the classic to find out where the beast was hidden..." 
Cord
"Since my work is related to the Streamline and Art Deco era, it was a natural for me to bring that car in. The Cord's radical design is a signature of the boldness and creativity of the 1920s and 1930s." 
Miller
"Created for the Indianapolis 500 competition in the 1920s, the Miller 91 belongs to the 'Machine Age' era. Dramatically graphic, it recalls the powerful majesty of the Hoover Dam."

Alain redefines the automobile with avant guarde futurism.
Alain redefines the automobile with avant guarde futurism.

I first met Alain in the '80's, and after collaborating on a few shows in New York we became fast friends and have worked together ever since. I immediately enjoyed his work the moment I saw it and have partnered with Alain in order to help share his beautiful artwork with collectors around the world. To celebrate Alain's artistic accomplishments, we here at l'art et l'automobile have gathered all of his artwork we have in the gallery, and present it here to you.

We invite you to view the Alain Lévesque gallery and acquire one of these magnificent pieces for you to display proudly.

Enjoy,

Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive artwork and memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our WEBSITE. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.


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