Alain Bertrand was born just after the liberation of Paris and sent to school close to an American airbase. For the young Alain Bertrand the emerging American superpower represented everything that Europe was not. There were gleaming motorcars, bright new shiny products, brash advertising slogans and Hollywood was in its heyday. America was also literally on the move, highways and rail tracks spread across the country, in the cities skyscrapers and modern monuments rose. Everything was better, bigger and bolder, a brave new world, where anything was possible: This was the American dream being realised.
Alain Bertrand’s striking paintings encapsulate those nearly lost dreams. This is not mere nostalgia, but a real sense that there is an inherent beauty in the ‘lavishest’ and ‘showiest’ aspect of American life. Alain’s rich illustrative style moves us through the decades, at times representing the 40s or 50s in monochrome, like a glimpse from a newsreel, then switching to glorious technicolour as we enter into the 60s and 70s. One moment we are placed at the heart of a swinging Jazz band, the next street level in the thick of yellow cabs, honking horns and brilliant illumination.
Every piece is skilfully constructed, combining striking tonal contrasts with beautiful detail and precision. There is a mood evoked by these pieces, a visual testament to the passing eras of American culture. Alain constantly pays homage to the cars he loves and indeed collects and also draws on his experience of working with Renault, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola.