10 Questions with Alex Greghi

The Langley Arts Council wanted to conduct and short Q&A with Alex Greghi about his exhibition Abstract Realism. The idea behind these Q&A interviews is for the LAC community to get to know Alex and his practice a little bit better. This Q&A was conducted over email between Alex and Claire Sarfeld the Gallery Director.

School’s Out by Alex Greghi Charcoal on Paper, 15" x 10", Private Collection

Have you always been artistic, and how has your artistic practice changed over the years?

I used to draw a lot when I was a child, but I believe most children like to draw and paint. When I was around 14 I tried to draw the girl I liked and It was not as beautiful as the real one, so I left drawing as much as before. Only after I finished the advertisement college and was working in an agency, an art director that became a good friend, said that I had some talent and should do drawing classes.

I did one drawing course and loved it, but in the end I knew I needed to learn more!

I entered a realistic art atelier course and then I found what made me think “WOW”. I started drawing lessons from the beginning and learned charcoal, pastels, and oil paint. From this time to nowadays, I am trying to be more proficient and less rational in my work!

Nina by Alex Greghi Charcoal on Paper, 13.5" x 9.5", Private Collection 

Does your Brazilian Heritage inspire your artistic practice and if so how?

I have always been sensitive to what I am living, to human behaviors and struggles, and this is what inspires me. 

As I am living here for two and a half years, the direct inspiration is not from Brazilian heritage as it used to be, but, as it is inside of me, it touches everything I do, sometimes it is more explicit, most of the times more subtle!

What artists or artistic movements are you most inspired by?

As a realist painter, representational movements are the ones I like the most. 

Probably the movement that most inspires me is the 19th-century realism, that has some of the most incredible artists spread around the globe. John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Sorolla, Boldini, Ilya Repin, and many other names during this period have produced a mix between highly technical and amazingly sensitive/expressive artworks.

There are other names from art history like Velasquez, Rembrandt, Degas, Mucha, Klimt, Fortuni, etc. , as some contemporary realists like my master, Mauricio Takiguthi.

"Sol de Inverno VIII" by Mauricio Takiguth

You mention wanting to portray the feeling of reality in your artwork. Why is this important to you to achieve and what techniques do you use to achieve this goal?

The feeling of reality means that it is not just the reality as cold as it can be, but the “aura” that is present in that. This is important to me so the painting (or drawing) is not just a copy of something.

To achieve both the real and the aura), a realistic approach is needed, and the deeper you understand the technic the better. This deep connection to the technics allows you to play with it and even deny it if needed, depending on what you are doing.

What’s a memorable response you’ve had to your work?

I use to have nice people giving feedback about my work, but sometimes one response seems to be from a different place inside that person. Once a woman saw my work “Dark Room” and said to me how touched she was. She could feel the serenity of a mother watching her baby sleeping and how that feeling relates to the feeling she has had herself when her son was born.

It is amazing feedback, but for me, it showed how universal my work was. I could reach her deep feelings through a visual art piece, although my intention was not doing a mother and there’s no baby in that picture.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in your professional practice?

When studying, be humble.
When doing your own work, trust your guts!
Ask, have good mentors, look for inspiration, but at the end of the day, trust your guts!

Monk by Alex Greghi Soft Pastels on Paper, Private Collection

What has been your favorite moment as a teacher?

I have many great times giving classes. I love doing it. It is great to help a student to achieve levels she/he never thought it was possible. There were lots of good moments in my atelier, back in Brazil, and here in the LAC Saturday classes. 

One unforgettable moment was, after a month or so giving classes to teenagers in a rehabilitation and re-socialization center (basically a jail for minors). I was having a lot of pressure from these guys to give up and give them the same kind of class they were used to have before.

They were used not to have challenges or struggles doing art. Every problem was solved with the teacher doing all the work. But I kept my classes as I believe it was better, giving the teenagers not only good times but ideas and concepts to work with. Something to change their mindset. After some time, one guy (he was 17 years old) just gave up and started doing what I’ve said, and after some time he had a nice drawing in process. After he finished it, he was so happy showing the drawing to the other teens. His “bad boy’s” face was turned into a boy’s happy face. He was proud of his drawing.After that, most of the teens started drawing and some of them had had amazing evolution.

What’s something the Langley Arts Council Community might not know about you?

That’s hard to answer. I’m an open book. 

Do you have any advice for other artists or what is some good artistic advice you’ve gotten in the past? 

My master use to say, “be sincere to your practice and to yourself, in a deep way, far from the surface.”

Resign by Alex Greghi Charcoal on Paper, apart of a Permanent Collection

The Langley Arts Council would like to thank Alex for his hard work and dedication to putting on a great show with the LAC for the AIFS Online Gallery! 

Visit Alex's Website HERE