'Any idea that is too precise at the outset: it can blind one to new ideas that might otherwise appear while work is in progress. Everything significant occurs within this creative 'meanwhile' (which is one of the mysteries of art) Before is irrelevant...And after we stand in front of a fait accompli, a definite result, definitely locked in its own moment in time, and which we call a painting.' (Pierre Alechinsky, 'Interview with Michael Gibson' in Pierre Alechinsky: Margin and Centre, exh. cat. New York, 1987, p. 15)
Paysage par la tranche is one of the largest and most ambitious of Pierre Alechinsky's paintings of the 1960s. A rare work rendered in oil on canvas, it was executed during the crucial year of 1965, when it passed into the collection of the present owner. A mysterious work seemingly alive with animate painterly forms and figures, was created in the immediate aftermath of his other great oil of this period, the vast and epic canvas Le Dernier Jour of 1964 now in the Koninklijk Museum Antwerp. Like this famous painting, Paysage de la tranche is a similarly complex psychological landscape born directly from the spontaneous painterly impulses of the former CoBrA artist.
After his involvement with CoBrA, in 1952, Alechinsky had moved to Paris where he became captivated by the practice of Japanese Calligraphy and the implications it held for his work. Through this he came to stress great importance on a meditative and mediumistic use of spontaneity as a way of painting intuitively and unconsciously within the dynamics of the present moment. Subsequently, his paintings tended to become materialisations whose imagery and form grew out of a sequence of impulsive and spontaneous painterly acts often interspersed by periods when Alechinsky would play the flute in a kind of sonic communion to the creation of the work.
Alechinsky has employed a thick brush and a paint thinned to the point of near translucence that allows the blank support of the canvas to shine through many of the painted marks and reiterate the dialogue between mark and ground that distinguished his calligraphic ink paintings. Following the practice he pursued in Le Dernier Jour, this painting, builds up a fantasy landscape from a series of intense and animate painterly actions, scrawled, smeared and daubed in a wide variety of manner on the surface. Out of these, passionate and intuitively made marks, a menagerie of mysterious personages and presences emerges from the artist's frenetic and often agitated brushwork to create an eerie panorama of faces and masks.