“Horses are always found in a beautiful environment, at the heart of nature, they’re indistinguishable from nature. What I’m interested in is the quest for beauty.” - A. Brasilier
Born into Art
Born in 1929 to a loving family of artists in Saumur, France, an idyllic country town, Andre Brasilier was naturally drawn to painting. Brasilier’s artistic talent and appreciation for nature blossomed early, and he went on to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1952, he was awarded the Prix Blumenthal and the following year, at the age of 23, Brasilier won the prestigious Premier Grand Prix de Rome for painting. Brasilier most valued this award because it allowed him to stay in Italy immersed in the works of the Old Masters, which had inspired his father, a prolific painter, decades before. Brasilier then returned to Paris and buried himself in the heart of Fauvism. It was through his study of Gauguin that his enchantment with color, particularly blues and reds, began.
Motifs and Style
Perpetually fascinated by nature and movement, Brasilier’s imagination was captivated by horses at an early age. Horses appear as a consistent motif throughout Brasilier’s oeuvre; he has described them as “a superb creation... charged with symbolism, strength, dynamism and beauty,” qualities that lend themselves well to the artist’s highly emotional vision of nature. Both in their sedentary and dynamic depictions, Brasilier’s horses serve as a metaphor for life, freedom and vitality.
Many of Brasilier’s paintings embody vivid movement and color that evoke Matisse and other “French tradition” masters. Additionally, Brasilier creates flat and harmonious compositions that recall the Japanese prints that revolutionized 20th century art. Wholly personal, many of Brasilier’s works offer a fascinating glimpse into his interior life. He often depicts his wife and muse, Chantal Brasilier, gathering and arranging flowers. By depicting real-life subjects transposed into dreamlike settings, Brasilier’s images portray a peaceful and harmonious world, with delicate harmonies of bright color and cool compositions. Despite Brasilier’s focus on movement, his paintings are all steeped in soft, cool light. As dream-like as his images are, they evoke a tender honesty that undeniably reflects Brasilier’s authentic devotion to the natural world.
Known as one of the last surviving modernists of the École des Beaux-Arts, Brasilier’s paintings lure their viewers into moments of contemplation. By using masterful techniques and contemporary narrative-driven motifs, Brasilier transports his viewers into surreal landscapes, with dreamy infusions of simple colors, shapes and forms. By visually translating his intimate communion with nature, he seems to easily reveal the natural beauty of his French surroundings. He is also one of only two artists, the other being Pablo Picasso, honored with a retrospective at Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum during their lifetime. He has exhibited works alongside legends such as Picasso, Braque, Chagall and Miro, and he is represented in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). In August of 2022, Sotheby’s in Hong Kong held a monumental retrospective exhibition featuring compositions from every chapter of Brasilier’s momentous career.