Andre Saint Louis graduated with a BFA in sculpture from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and has had frequent exhibits throughout the Milwaukee area over the last twelve years. Andre’s use of mediums and painting techniques provide a direct reference to traditional artwork, while maintaining an undertone of contemporary ideas. Specific influences include Carravaggio, Sargent and Courbet.

Historically, Andre’s work has had a strong emphasis on the figure, with themes that highlight different aspects of his own relationships. This subject matter and genre appealed to him as it posed a challenge of personal exploration, while providing entertainment and a mode of self –expression. He has also chosen to focus on the figure as form of visual language that many people can interpret and relate to; in painting a solitary figure (or in some cases a facial feature) Andre entices the viewer to independently create history, dialogue and emotion without complex scenery or concrete storyline.

In these current paintings, Andre explores alternative perspectives of the figure. With expansive panoramic portraits featuring only the eyes to abstract shaped compositions that utilize negative space as much as the canvas, he poses the question:

What happens when you limit or restrict the amount of the figure exposed?

The panoramic paintings are meant to create an intimate focus into the eyes and souls of the figure portrayed. This personal perspective is one that typically can only be achieved by very close interaction with the subject; it is a simple and innocently direct portrait, free from fashion trends or hair styles. The technique creates portrait without distractions and a personal view characteristic of intimate relationships. As such, the viewer is able to experience the array of colors in a stranger’s iris and the movement of light shifting across their brow; levels of personal detail that are typically reserved only for our family and closest friends.

The abstract, fragmented compositions are often a direct response to how Andre’s own eye explores the figures, both at first glance and throughout the entire painting process; these restrictions allow the viewer to see the portrait through the artist’s eyes. While limiting what the viewer is able to see, Andre’s technique helps to create a focus on the detailed characteristics of the portraits. In doing so, the viewer often sees the entire subject before realizing that a large portion of canvas has been cropped.

These paintings create a distant view of the figure; the physical shape of the paintings limits the exposure of the subject but compliments the directional orientation of their face. Andre enjoys the struggle that is created between the two dimensional painted surface and the impeding three dimensional shape. The compositional form takes on a kinetic quality, allowing portraits to develop characteristics and personas that a standard rectangular canvas would not provide. In this, Andre challenges the inherent boundaries between sculpture and painting.

As Peggy Sue Dunnigan of Express Milwaukee put it, “A cheek, chin or ear may be missing, alluding to those concealed personality traits that remain unknown when looking directly into someone’s face. What hidden emotions or thoughts lurk behind raised eyebrows or pursed lips, especially when the complete picture is missing?”