Alec Kronacker: ‘Terroir’
This series of work - comprising paintings, objects and furniture - grew out of a period of travel across the south of France in the summer of 2016.
Two of the things that struck me most were the huge number of small communities still living a semi-rural existence and the casual juxtaposition in many places of the ancient and the modern.
Much of the work is framed around the idea of the Terroir, which in its original meaning signifies the soil and other factors particular to a certain region which gives its produce unique characteristics and can be an important trademark for commercial purposes and regional pride alike.
The word terroir now seems to embody a whole industry based around the idea of artisanal or non-industrial produce and a somewhat artificial fetishisation of tradition for its own sake.
Applying the term more broadly still, I started to think of it as all the various strands of thinking and making that combine to produce an artist’s work. The psychological terroir of the maker as it were.
In the context of the exhibition I have used it as a catch-all term for the recurring elements that make up the paintings - landscape, food, music, costumes. All the various things featured in the paintings are part of their terroir.
At its core, the word alludes to a sense of rootedness - to a place, a time and a culture. Something which, in the globalised world of today, isn’t necessarily a given and which many people have to construct for themselves.
I see the characters inhabiting these works - broadly speaking urban intellectual types, exemplified by the Yé-yé, or French beatnik - as attempting to hold on to or imagine an idea of how their world should be. A world that may soon disappear or has already disappeared and needs to be revived.Released from their usual cosmopolitan environs and set adrift in this surreal rustic landscape, they are having to forge a new identity - inventing a folk culture in accordance with the environment in which they find themselves.