Place Names, the Place, an exhibition of new pastels and watercolors by Canadian artist Paul P. The artist’s second solo show with the gallery exhibits works built on P.’s previous creations and themes that address the suspension of characters on the verge of impending change.
P. expands his landscapes to include figures situated within architectural environments. Working within an intimate scale, P. proves his ability to combine naturalism and atmosphere as his layering of pastels accentuates the figures and light falling over these conceptualized compositions. His watercolors capture light and shadow, embodying the seductive and suggestive nature of each figure.
In the past, P. has exhibited still life and landscape works alongside his portraiture. In this body of works, P. actually places the figure within the landscape. In doing so, P. draws a direct correlation between the manner and style of his medium and the subject. The exhibition takes its name from a chapter in Marcel Proust’s Within a Budding Grove, in which the main character develops a fascination with an imagined impression and experience of love in Venice. By using Venetian architecture as the stage for his subjects, P. alludes this infatuation.
The temporal fragility of Venice and its architecture, compliment the ephemeral “golden age” and time that these figures inhabit. This “golden age” serves as a metaphor for the sexual liberation of the late 60’s which diminished with the appearance of AIDS. P. pulls from a naturalist aesthetic that prevailed during this time for his figures. P. also notes the influence of James Abbot McNeill Whistler, stating, “[Whistler] was one of those artists that placed the upmost importance on aesthetics over narrative.” P.’s new body of works achieves a fine balance between these two elements. As the compositions draw from the cityscape of Venetian architecture, the placement of the figure in each work lends itself to simple admiration of the forms rendered. However, the inviting stances of many of the figures encourage a dialogue between the viewer and the image. P. admits to a plunge of his work into a ³murkierŠmore dramatic² realm as he explores his subject matter.
His recent inclusion of the female form lends further insight into the femininity and sensuality of these male figures. Almost as a gauge for comparison, these female figures shed light onto those characteristics perceived as feminine, and set into relief the delicate traits of their male counterparts in the exhibition.