Alain Senez was born in 1948 in Paris. When the family moved to Provence, he was accepted at the art school in Aix at the age of 14 on the strength of an outstanding talent. In 1966 he moved back to Paris to study at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts. There he won numerous prizes for painting, sculpture, architecture and perspective. At 19 he taught perspective drawing in the School of Architecture. In 1968 he won the Grand Prix Rocheron for landscape painting, as well as the Fortin d’Ivry prize awarded by the Institut de France and in the same year was favourite in the Prix de Rome, attracting an enthusiastic notice from Balthus.
Senez’ creative activities were interrupted by military service, which he spent in Africa. On his return, after a spell of teaching in the south of France, he moved north again to Paris in 1974 and thereafter to Belgium, where he immersed himself in a study of the techniques of the Flemish and French masters. As a graduate with flying colours of the exacting disciplines of traditional art education practised in France (achieving the coveted position of second Logiste in the Prix de Rome for painting) Senez acknowledges his deep debt to masters such as Corot and Manet. Tempering his broad, romantic vision is a very contemporary, specifically a very European sensibility, expressed, for instance, in the way in which he effortlessly blends imaginary elements with precise observation and a powerful ability to evoke a sense of place.
Frequently it is classical architecture which provides the framework for Senez’ compositions: an archway giving on to a courtyard or garden, a room filled with light from an unseen source. The device of a window may be enriched by the presence of a further dimension: walls, exterior as well as interior, bear the traces of other paintings, now faded, suggesting a different time. Between one past and another there is a human figure or a statue or sometimes an animal, as if these complex scenes are haunted by a past existing in several layers.
Fusing these layers or time-frames into coherent compositions is a characteristic Senez dynamic: a contrast in mood from, for example, a Corotesque vision of tranquillity to a storm out of Géricault. The power of Senez’ imagery is crucially backed up by his technical mastery. Brilliant chiaroscuro effects, rich surfaces enlivened by feats of trompe l’oeil are all the more effective for belonging to a seamless, flowing whole. It comes as no surprise, for example, to discover that the artist no longer uses traditional paint tubes but prepares and mixes his own pigments directly.
Alain Senez has been represented by Francis Kyle Gallery since 2002 and was a major participant in the gallery’s theme exhibitions, Roma (2003)and Lair of The Leopard: twenty artists go in search of Lampedusa’s Sicily (2005), РОДИНА Contemporary painters from the West winter in Russia (2008)and Jumping for Joyce: Contemporary painters revel in the world of James Joyce (2013). First London one-person exhibition, autumn 2004
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