This work will be included in the forthcoming André Brasilier catalogue raisonné being prepared by Alexis Brasilier.
Painted in 1977 at the height of the artist’s career, Le chevaux de Neptune is a veritable tour-de-force within Brasilier’s overall body of work. Here, the artist realizes his most important and enduring motif - that of galloping horses in nature - on a monumental scale. Moreover, the title of the painting imparts it with a classical narrative which further enhances its epic character. Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, was also worshipped by the Romans as a god of horses, and was a patron of horse racing under the name Neptunus Equester (fig. 1).
The subject of the horse forms a cornerstone of Brasilier’s art. The artist stated, “As for the horse, I really like this animal, as much for its beauty as for the harmony that it has with nature… I love life, and horses, with their forms and their ardor, delight and intrigue me” (interview with André Brasilier in his workshop, www.brasilier.fr, September 2014).
Discussing his work, Brasilier explained that: “A large canvas can even have an entrancing power over the person looking at it. Some subjects require grand proportions. But the choice of large format comes overall from my research into the spontaneity of gestures. When I paint, I want to feel life in my movements, as life is found in the gallop of a horse or in the undertow of the sea” (op. cit. ).
In the present work, Brasilier has handled the subject in his distinctive, graphic style in which the horses are reduced to striking silhouettes beneath a sweeping sky. The artist’s brushwork alternates between a gestural approach consisting of broadly applied strokes of paint, and an almost pointillist manner in the rendering of light reflecting on water. Through his rich use of color, Brasilier transforms nature into an enchanting setting. Although naturalistic, Le chevaux de Neptune evokes an imaginary, mythical world that is characterized by a sense of awe for nature and an innate fascination with the iconic image of the horse and rider.