Alain Babel is an artist who deserves to be better known, but given that he has always been such a ‘local’ artist to his native Geneva and has never sought wider recognition, his distinctive erotic style has largely remained hidden.
For those who do know his work, it will mostly be through his illustrations for Genèvois histories and cookbooks such as the 1994 Genève et ses vieux bistrots (Geneva and its Old Restaurants), or his colourful and highly accessible cityscapes.
But there is another, more interesting side, to Babel’s output, which he increasingly turned to during the late 1970s. As his wife Dominique wrote in the introduction to a retrospective exhibition held in Geneva’s Galerie d’Anières in 2017, ‘Ever since he started out as an artist, his imagination has predominated, and is reflected in what he creates. The idea of introducing dreamlike elements into a very precise reality gives him the pleasure of freeing himself from limiting conventions, and this gives rise to drawings in which well-known Geneva sites are invaded by scantily-dressed young women and unusual objects. After the beautiful period of his realistic paintings, detailed drawing in pencil now allows him to fully express himself.’