Represented by the Sitges-based, i le Gallery, we’re delighted that Alex Voinea’s colourful abstract work is featured in the latest Affordable Art Fair Stockholm campaign. The fair, which takes place October 8 – 11, at Nacka Strandsmässan, has exhibited Alex Voinea´s work since the gallery first exhibited in 2019 – and we’ve been fans ever since!
With the fair just around the corner, we met with Alex to find out more about his ‘rugged’ journey to becoming an artist and the fascinating story behind his inspiration for his expressive, colourful, abstract works.
INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST ALEX VOINEA
Hi Alex, we’re so excited to highlight your piece ‘av_560’ in the Affordable Art Fair Stockholm campaign! How does it feel to have your work selected to promote this edition?
The truth is, it was a very happy surprise and I’m grateful and honored. In general, people tell me that my work transmits joy and good vibrations as it is very dynamic and colourful, so I hope the campaign image communicates this “good feeling” and provides some optimism which we all need right now.
What was the inspiration behind ‘av_560’?
I honestly can’t say if I have a concrete motivation or inspiration for each individual painting. I would say that my work primarily depends on my emotional state. That’s why some are minimalist, and others have much more movement. I rarely know exactly how a work will turn out. Of course, I always have an idea of what I want, such as the colour of the background, the direction I want to create a drip or a splash, but I also let the work carry me. Every brushstroke or gesture can change my mind and the work will end up looking to the piece I had expected.
There’s an important and continuous interaction between myself and the canvas, which sits somewhere between coincidence and intention. Every decision I make can create a significant variation in the evolution of the work and the final result. There is always an infinite number of possibilities which is a bit like life, don’t you think?
As an artist, what does a typical day involve for you?
A typical workday for me is quite routine, however it is anything but boring. As soon as I walk into my studio I am invaded by a strange sense of happiness and peace. A big part of my creative process is preparing the colours that I work with. I can spend hours mixing paint, diluting colours until they are the exact density that I need for each specific colour. The final result of every action, every gesture that is part of my work depends on careful preparation, there is a lot of work that relates to physics and the chemistry of the materials.
I tend to work on several works at the same time, allowing them to dry between different sessions. I must be limber and engaged as my technique is very instinctual and I don’t have much time to make decisions. And so that is how I spend 6 or 7 hours in the studio with varying states of energy, with good days and bad days but very entertained and learning every day. However, the truth is, I am always thinking about painting, not just when I am in the studio, but even when I am washing the dishes.
Have you always known you wanted to become an artist?
Yes, ever since I can remember, I knew I wanted to paint. I’m sure that my mother had a lot to do with it, she painted when she was young; painting was her great passion. Despite this, I never actually saw her paint, something happened, and she stopped. I was never able to ask her why as she developed early onset Alzheimer’s, but I’m sure she instilled the passion of painting in me.
I would describe my path through the arts as a rugged journey, one full of changes. Creating art was always my dream, even though for various reasons I couldn’t always paint. It has been a difficult journey, similar to that of many other artists who were born during unsettled times and complicated situations, in countries with dictatorships, where instead of supporting the public with initiative and creativity, it was oppressed.
When I was growing up in Romania, it was not a good time to dream or hope to be an artist. Instead of studying art as I would have liked, I had to think about how I was going to survive and how I could help out at home as the situation there was delicate. It was the tail end of the Communist regime and the country united in ending it. I’m proud to have played a small part; at 16 years old, without saying anything to my mother, my best friend and I went to Bucharest on the first day of the revolution. I was motivated by a group of revolutionaries who took over the national television and called on the population to come out in protest of the regime. I stayed there for several days in marches that were there in the streets and squares of the capitol during the revolution of December of 1989.
After the revolution the situation got even more complicated, the government collapsed and suddenly everyone was without work, factories closed and nobody knew what to do, it was chaos. We went from communism to capitalism overnight and without any instruction manual. At that point, I had to forget about studying for good and as soon as I could get my passport, I left Romania to look for opportunities and made a living, buying and selling goods between Russia and Romania until I was able to save enough money to buy a visa and go to Italy – which had long been a dream.
What a journey! When did you finally start to realise your dream? Did it take you a long time to develop your signature style?
Once I was in Italy, I became a decorative painter; painting houses, murals, etc. I discovered a whole new world of materials and techniques that I would later use in my art. When I went to a hardware or paint store where you can have any colour mixed up, I was fascinated by the moment when the colour was poured into the base paint. It was magical for me! The colour would hit the surface creating little splashes, veils, transparencies and streams of colour that collided over the white paint. To me a fascinating world opened up on the small surface of the paint can. So, once the colour was added and just before the machine would begin to shake and mix the paint, I would ask the owner if I could have a few minutes to play with paint, mixing it with a small brush or my finger, playing like a child, fascinated by the effects created when you mixed the colours and not knowing at the time that this inspiration would later become the focus of my work. For many years I invested most of my money and all of my free time developing my style. My journey through the arts has taught me that if you really have something inside you that moves you, follow your dreams. And while it may not happen overnight, I am convinced that in the end you can achieve whatever it is you want.
That is a fantastic sentiment to share with all the budding artists reading this interview. What would you say are the most rewarding and the most challenging aspects of being an artist today?
By far the most rewarding part of being an artist is to see how people react and respond to my work. I am a very curious person and painting gives me an outlet for my curiosity. I can experiment and play and in doing so, I am constantly learning and growing.
As for the challenges, the business side of art is of course difficult. I would much rather spend my time making art rather than selling it, but these days, all artists need to do both. Patience is something I must work on every day, as well as keeping my ego in check, thankfully I have plenty of self-doubt to help me with that! At the same time, I want to stand out and make a place for myself in this crazy world of art, so it’s always a bit of a dance.
We can’t help but be completely taken in by Alex’s story, the challenges he has overcome to realise his dream of becoming an artist. It has made us see even more depth to his artwork, and we can’t wait to lean in a little closer at the Stockholm fair this Autumn. Mark your diary with the dates (October 8 – 11, at Nacka Strandsmässan) and to purchase your ticket, simply follow the link below.
Featured art from first to last:
Alex Voinea, av_560, 2019, Acrylic on Linen, 130 x 162cm, €5,200, i le Gallery
Alex Voinea painting in his own studio
Alex Voinea, av_640, 2020, Acrylic on Linen, 116 x 89cm, €3,200, i le Gallery
Alex Voinea, av_561, Acrylic on Linen, 195 x 130cm, €5,900, i le Gallery
Alex Voinea, av_569, Acrylic on Linen, 130 x 97cm, €3,600, i le Gallery
Alex Voinea exhibition at Affordable Art Fair Milan 2020