“Nourishing an active naiveté for looking at everything anew”
An exhibition at The Baker Museum
November 25, 2015 –
March 30, 2016
The figurative paintings of Spanish artist Paco Pomet transform mostly anonymous graphic sources into examinations of history, memory and the absurd. Elements of subversion, at times subtle, then flagrant, imbue his compositions—usually monochromatic landscapes and portraits—leaving the viewer both intrigued by their accuracy and technical mastery, yet puzzled by their iconology.
Pomet’s work is embedded in the contemporary visual culture of intensive production of images yet also goes against the current, vindicating the use of the imagination to challenge the commonly obsolete perception of reality. In his paintings, the artist distorts the meaning of the image he reproduces through different ways: by integrating an element—often humorous—that is out of context within the depicted subject, deforming characteristics or physical extremities of the portrayed beings, playing with scale or using bright, almost unreal, colors. The result is a hilarious, if not shocking or mysterious, composition that invites the viewer to search for meaning, a playful proposition that reflects Pomet’s ultimate interest in “nourishing an active naiveté for looking at everything anew,” far from conventions.
Silvia Perea, a curatorial research associate at The Baker Museum, spoke to the artist about his work and how he creates his alternate take on reality.
On his creative process:
“The genesis of a project, the way that ideas come to life is often very interesting because I can’t control it completely. It is not a search. They are little discoveries.
“There are many buttons that I like to push in my work. And sometimes I don’t do it consciously, but it happens to me. Sometimes the ideas come to my mind first, and then I go and look for the photos. Or on the contrary, it may happen that I am looking at photos and I suddenly have the idea of subverting the image or to mischievously play with it or pay homage to it, giving it a suggestive twist that I would like that image to have or that I would like to see in it.
“The attitude that works for me is to remain alert, so that when I find an idea or the occasion to catch an idea comes, it does not escape.”
On his lack of a formal method:
“Since chance is part of my work, I am unable to fix any rules or a method and that brings surprises, things that one did not expect. And it’s more fun like that.”
On being inspired by photography:
“I am specifically interested in images that have no author, so to speak–not artistic images, but archive images, images that are visual documents.”
On the importance of the past:
“The obsession for the present and the future and for projecting ourselves forward leads us often to forget lots of things about the past that may be very interesting. I think we are obsessed with novelty for whatever may happen, for being updated.
“Today it seems that… to have the latest version and to be aware of the latest version of yourself is the most important thing.
“I think the past is the most precious thing that we have because it helps us understand our present. I have always thought there is nothing new under the sun. Like the Latin epigraph “Nihil Novi.” There is nothing new. There is always a recapitulation of the old, instead.”
November 4, 2015