Alfa Art Gallery Catalogue 2019
Chapter 4, Visceral and Visionary
Page 26 / Exhibition June 18-August 31, 2018
Staff Curator / Alfa Gallery
For many, art is a means by which one can attain freedom of mind and spirit through personal expression. Alphonse Lane embarks on his artistic ventures in order to attain such freedom. He paints impressionistic depictions of fruit and floral reminiscent of Diego Rivera’s Muralist works. Lane’s nature –rich still life’s images serve as the result of a catalyst which coalesces the colors he keeps on hand and the images he visualizes with his mind’s eye. In complying with strict laws of permanence when crafting his paintings Lane strives to create works capable of withstanding the passage of time just as the great Impressionists artist before him did. With his utilization of sublime hues and pigments, each contributing their own unique quality to his completed works of art, Lane yearns to present art that speaks as loudly and clearly to his viewers as his own voice would.
GALLERY AND STUDIO MAGAZINE, VOLUME #10, No,5 Ed McCormack / Article Summer 2008.
Ed McCormack / Gallery and Studio Magazine New York
Alphonse Lane Brings “Nature Morte” to Strange New Life
In his book, “Objects on the Table,” Guy Davenport states, “That the kinship of still life with still life down through history is greater than that of landscape with landscape, or portrait with portrait, lies at the center of its mystery,” and adds, “Reiteration is a privilege of still life denied many other modes.” Although Davenport’s theory is interesting, he’s obviously unfamiliar with the highly original still life compositions of Alphonse Lane, an artist who holds an MFA in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and exhibits Monkdogz Urban Art, in Chelsea, whose work can be seen on his website Alphonse Lane.net.
For Lane, who works in a meticulous and pristine style and oil on panel objects on a table invariably take a turn for the surreal. Aside from occasional departures from his usual format – an intriguing composition of floating figurative fragments and symbols called “Stage of Crystals”; a moody style landscape called “Fallen Sunflower” – most of his compositions center on one or more floral arrangements lined up frontally against a background of a single, pale hue. However, the petals and fronds of the flowers often resemble tendrils; their leaves possess a serpentine sinuous nest; their colors appear to parody rather than imitate nature: odd pastel hues tending toward soft, smoky yellows, olive greens, mauves, and baby blues.
The vases and pots that Lane paints are often in similar offbeat colors and their shapes can be just as fanciful, as seen in “Exotic Phases,” where pink and pale violet vessels with curved handles rival further Baroque contours the bizarre plant forms that they hold. Lane’s apparently imaginary plant species sometimes suggest alien life forms of an almost sinister sensuality, as flora take on the qualities of fauna, assuming postures that can seem tortured, wounded, even malign.
Two of his most overtly anthropomorphic paintings are “Windmill Flower,” and “Dying Limbs,” where the plants and their vessels merge visually to suggest single figures gesturing dramatically. Giving the lie to Davenport’s theory of sameness, Lane differs significantly from earlier still life painters, such as the Dutch masters or Marandi, in that he seems less concerned with the play of light on surfaces or formal juxtapositions than with the emotional resonance of inanimate objects.
This is not to imply that Lane is neglectful of formal values; quite the contrary: it is his exquisite sensitivity to form, spatial relationships, and subtleties of tone and color that lends his compositions their underlying tension. On one level, his paintings can appear as austerely arranged and un-inflected in style as those of William Bailey, another contemporary painter who invests still life with peculiarly suggestive qualities. But while Bailey’s tabletop lineups of China cups, canisters, clay wear, and the occasional egg, smoothly painted and subdued hues, have reminded some critics of metaphorical cityscapes, Lane’s paintings are all the more remarkable for his ability to imbue an equally restrained technique with a deeper psychological suggestiveness by virtue of his fanciful subject matter.
In Lane’s painting “Olive Mist,” for example, there is the suggestion of a familial relationship between the three objects that make up the composition. The two taller plants inhabit blue and purple phases respectfully. Waving their fronds like arms, they appear to fawn over the smaller plant in a squat yellow pot between them. While the latter sits self-contained, like a baby Buddha, it’s odd blue and red petals and symmetrical leaves flourishing, the other two seem to shrivel and wane, as though drained by their doting concern.
While such interpretations are admittedly subjective and probably touch upon meanings never intended by the artist, it seems safe to surmise that each viewer who scrutinizes Lane’s work will come up with equally far-fetched conclusions of his or her own. So sadly, evocative are these paintings that one can’t help reading all manner of things into them. And Lane obviously does nothing to discourage such imaginative forays on the part of the viewer when he names a composition comprised of three objects, the central one tall and red with pink petals sprouting out of it like tongues of flame, “Fire Vase,” or titles another composition, “These Flowers Never Die.”
Something of a mysterious departure for its outdoor setting is a painting called “Blue Light,” in which hearty nocturnal blooms in a stout vase are seen against a starry sky, seemingly trumpeting their vespertine glories from their shapely horns. By contrast, in “Red Ocher Vase,” small, colorful flowers on a tall vine, rising out of the vessel shaped like a human heart, appear to sizzle like sparks on the fuse of a bomb.
Indeed, it is this sense of imminence, of something strange about to happen, and in happening, to create a metaphor for something else, that imbues the ostensibly simple paintings of Alphonse Lane with a vital complexity which transcends the connotations of passivity and morbidity inherent in the French term for still life, “nature morte.” --Ed McCormackEd McCormack / Gallery and Studio Magazine New York
Autumn She Beckons 2019
Here I sit and let silence speak taking its time. The rustle of the leaves in the soft breeze in the evening light whispers. Oh, nature you call once again with the chanting of the season, what do you bring us this time around? A quiet gale to the next bend in the road, the groaner on the crest of the waves quells the soul. Soft and tranquil is the caress of night, Moonrise on the horizon, deep amber orange ascending to the highest point as a guiding light in the night sky. Tell me spirit, which way shall you cometh? I hear you, the hush and calm in the quiet of the night. The dawn she awakens to the arising day, another season has come and gone, be with me oh great wise one. Let me take my leave of myself and paint with reckless abandon, passion, the vehement fervor. Look at it, yes, “look”, see, with the eyes what the mind tells is not so. Let me know once again so I may have my vision as if never seen before.
I have found you.
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