On The Up
Contemporary Artists weâ€™re Tipping for Success..
December 2009, Modern Edition
Alexander Tinei 'tattoos' his subjects with blue markings that are layered onto finished portraits rather like painterly graffiti. At times applied heavily, like make-up, in other works delicate lines spread like veins or hairline cracks over flesh.
The act of tattooing is, of course, one which carries extensive cross-cultural significance, from Japanese artistry to marks of tribal allegiance or the Nazi numbering of concentration camp inmates.
By emulating the most commonly used basic blue ink, Tinei leaves his emblematic tracery open to multiple association as well as the nuance of his own.
It's true that Tinei's work can seem questionable in its combination of glaring signature trait and fashionably murky Eastern European themes and execution (Tinei was born in 1967 in Moldova, formerly part of the Soviet Union, but now lives and works in Budapest, Hungary). is easy to brush off as just a little too knowing; decorative rather than deep.
But while we were initially inclined to view this latest facet of the artist's practice as little more than gimmicky affectation, it's one that becomes increasingly compelling.
Add to this an undoubted ability to produce awkwardly intimate, enigmatic portraits, and we're willing to bet that Tinei is headed for far greater recognition.