"Philippe Aïni"

by Dominique Stal,

in "Quinze ans de peinture contemporaine", Maisonneuve & Larose Editions

Born in 1952, Philippe Aïni suddenly leaves the pastry cooker job he had learned. Self-taught, he decides at the age of 24 to dedicate himslef fully to painting and sculpting.

Aïni in his workshop - 1995

Of raw intensity not perverted by studies and clear of all benchmarks, his work is impulse, surge, contortions. Compositions of grinning characters, malformed and macabres that could illustrate François Villon's "Ballade des pendus" (Ballad of the hanged litterally). They also are like Middle-Ages paintings and bosses of which they have the violence. His humans are suffering, like dominated by the fear of what is above them, of the inexplicable, and their bodies are distorted by convulsions, spasms, frights. And they literally take form, those beings, since Aïni applies some mattress filling on his canvas, that he then shapes to create a real volume. Notions of beautifull or ugly hold no value for him, because he shows beauty in ugliness and vice versa. It takes deep love for Humankind to show it with such harshness and refusal to embelish it, ni all it's horror, its ugliness, its suffering. Without that love, deep and hidden, returned of all disappointments, the artist wouldn't have done this artwork.

Drawing? perspective? Those mean little to Aïni. What matters is the expressive strength of his images, of the so little pleasing routine of life. As excessive as disillusioned, Aïni. As crazy as lucid. His framing is narrowed, as stiffling as those immense cathedrals in which mankind feels tiny in front of mystical or natural forces power, according to each one's belief. The artisit represents murderess humanity seeking redemption in suffering. But murderer madnesses always reapeat and there is no progress in History. Aïni is like the troubadours that passed from village to village to tell with many details love or demon stories. His paintings travel from hands to hands, from soul to soul, like proofs of exitence, of humanity. One should not express reducing judgement on his works, for he is not an artist of the approximation and there is such of a fusion with his visions that no comparison stands.

Aïni in his workshop - 1996