Philippe Pasqua (1965)
Philippe Pasqua, born in Grasse, France in 1965, is a self-taught artist who, at the age of 18, began to paint using salvaged materials such as house paint.
His first pictorial subjects resemble strange silhouettes or voodoo fetishes but he is gradually drawn to the people he encounters every day, in particular, the men, women and children in visibly precarious and vulnerable situations. Prostitutes, transvestites, blind people, people leaving the operating room, and Down’s syndrome patients became his favourite subjects, often treated on a monumental scale that magnifies them and recognises them as members of a society that seeks to hide them. However, the artist does not spare the spectator from emotional shock at the sight of these naked bodies or faces, impressive because of their realistic skin and expressive intensity, which combine psychological brutality and subtle execution: simultaneously profane and sacred.
This art, the subjects and style of which disturb and challenge conformism, can be compared to that of Lucian Freud or Francis Bacon. Philippe Pasqua begins his process by taking a series of photographs of his model in close-up and low-angle framing. He then works on the canvas alone, applying the pictorial material patiently in successive layers, using marks, impasto, and crossed or free strokes.
In addition to these very ‘carnal’ paintings, Philippe Pasqua also makes large drawings with lead on a white ground, in which he uses an eraser and rag to remove contours of bodies and faces, resulting in a vibratory halo. Meanwhile, in his ‘palimpsests’ which combine painting, serigraphy and printing on paper, the artist practices a new treatment, redrawing his own works and staining them with colours.
Since 1987, Philippe Pasqua has taken on the theme of vanitas, a common subject of classical painting, which he transposed into three dimensions using a technique reminiscent of medieval goldsmiths and certain shamanist rituals. He takes human skulls, which he covers with leaves of gold or silver, or even animal skins. He then tattoos the surface with drawings of flowers and legendary animals (dragons…). Then upon the skulls he places preserved butterflies, whose iridescent reflections capture the light as it sinks into the holes of the eye sockets, unless the whole has been covered with a thick coat of paint.
The artist reconceived these works on bone (that followed those on flesh), giving the new series a monumental scale. In Carrara marble the skulls bear the weight of several tons, and carry an imposing telluric energy. He also created these works in cast iron then immersed in a chrome bath. The skulls, whether of a human or hippopotamus, become dazzling brilliant mirrors from afar and from near, bear the reflection of their viewer. The works thus offer reflection in both meanings of the term.
Recently, Philippe Pasqua offered a new surprise by focusing on the automobile. This work covers a vehicle with a tattooed skin upon the car’s body (the car itself then mounted against a wall like a sculpture). Here again Philippe Pasqua enjoys a play with contrasts between concepts and their opposites: mechanical/organic, speed/immobility, and insensitivity/sensuality, still with the aim of shaking our convictions.
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Art works from Philippe Pasqua
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