Alexis Francois Bester was born on 20 December 1962 in Oranjemund, Namibia, but two months later his family moved to South Africa and has resided there ever since. He started school in 1969 in Nigel, but because his family moved house often he ended up going to seven different schools and matriculated at Goudini High School, Rawsonville, in 1980. He completed his two years compulsory national service in the South African Air force and then trained as a cartographer at the Cape Technicon. For the next 12 years he worked as a cartographer before he started painting full time in 1999.
As a child Alexis had a very vivid imagination and various imaginary friends, this it seems allowed him to escape from life's realities and enter into the more pleasant world of the unreal. His mother remembers always having to dish out individual portions for all his "friends". Alexis had a great fascination with and love for the entertainment world especially the circus and shows on ice. During his teens and early twenties music dominated his interests and he has been an enthusiastic electrical guitar player ever since.
During his school years he never had any formal art training and never thought of himself as an artist. The important catalyst towards his art career was when he injured his back during basic training of his two years compulsory service in 1981. He had to lay in traction for 6 months during which he started to draw and sketch to keep him occupied. Alexis has been drawing and painting part time since then until he started working as a full-time artist in 1999.
Alexis's fascination with the circus and the performing arts explains the many harlequin and clown images in his work. Musicians and angels also frequent his canvases as a result of his love for music and the spiritual nature of his work. Women often feature in his work as they represent wholeness and nurturing to Alexis. He will most often use a rural backdrop and then paint his subjects in a playful manner, often combining an indoors/outdoors feel to his paintings. This is to represent our reality of our inner and personal nature while living in the world. Alexis also adds humour to his work in an attempt to uplift and enrich the viewer by moving them away from everyday problems and drudgery.
Colour, Style, Composition and Technique:
Alexis's use of colour reveals a distinct Fauvism mentality. His vivid imagination creates a succulent feast of masterfully blended colour. These bright colours reflect a vitality and energy that generate a spiritual and uplifting mood in the viewer.
Alexis practices interpretative realism. He paints in a relative simplistic way to reintroduce the viewer to a child-like vision of the mystery and wonder in everyday things and events. He would rather make use of convex lines than concave lines to make his forms appear "bulky" to create a feel of wholeness. Alexis's work also has a subtle surrealistic quality to it. This reflects the surreal dimension of our lives and makes each painting more personal to the viewer.
Most of Alexis's recent compositions contain simple geometric forms and subjects painted from his imagination. His rural backdrop is painted in single point perspective although he would sometimes make use of multiple viewpoints and paint multiple picture planes.
This creates interesting perspective with little distinction between foreground and background. Alexis use strong shadows often exaggerating in darkness of tone to create depth and enhance the surreal quality of his work.
His medium is mainly oil paint on either board or canvas. He draws his composition in charcoal and adds preliminary shades and colour by mixing paint and turpentine. The painting is then allowed to dry before he starts to work through the painting, applying paint only and mixing colours as needed. Alexis primarily uses flat brushes, but also uses round brushes, pallet knives and his fingers. His aim with his work is to enrich the lives of people and inspire them to higher thoughts and pure enjoyment.
Henri Rousseau (French artist 1844-1910)
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist 1853-1890)
Henri Matisse (French artist 1869-1954)
Pablo Picasso (Spanish artist 1881-1973)
Marc Chagall (French artists 1887-1985)
Giorgio de Cherico (Greco-Italian painter 1888-1978)
Portchie (South African artist)
Pieter van der Westhuisen (South African artist)
Alexis's other passion:
Another great passion in Alexis's life is playing the electric guitar. His dad taught him to play an acoustic guitar while still at school, but he started to practice seriously in 1984 (ironically after breaking his left hand). He formed a gospel rock band in 1988 called Mannah with 4 friends and have performed at the Three Arts Theatre. They have since broken up, but Alexis is still composing and producing his own Afrikaans rock songs and blues rock instrumentals. His favorite bands and guitarists are: Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, Live, Nickelback, Fuel, Stevie Ray Vaughan,Jimi Hendrix and Ingwe Malmsteen.