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 realized.
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 40’s or 50’s in monochrome, like a glimpse from a newsreel. Then switching to glorious technicolour as we enter into the 60’s and 70’s. 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 skillfully 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.
When asked about his artwork and his recent series of murals he replied, ‘I enjoy painting the murals – it gives me an opportunity to put together all the elements that I love – music, rock legends, cars and other americana, they are all concentrated in a way that makes them generic. These murals are technically difficult and I love the challenge.’ He went on to tell us about his new limited giclée on canvas works, ‘as well as exhibiting my original paintings at the Keys, I am also launching this new body of work. I was approached by some of my collectors who have two homes and they wanted to have my images in their holiday homes as well. So, I have produced 26 images in a small edition of 25. Every image will be to the original size of the painting and they shall be signed by me in verso’.
Jeff Beck, one of Alain’s rock heroes will be attending the opening night preview of the exhibition. Rock music has been an enduring love for Alain, ‘after my family and art, music is my passion – I listen to it all day whilst I am working, I have a very large collection of books and have over 12,000 records and CD’s’