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Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Paul P. This will be the third solo show at the gallery by the Paris based artist.

Paul P.’s work can be seen in a concurrent solo show at Daniel Reich Gallery in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Maureen Paley in London (2008), Gallerie Thaddeus Ropac in Paris (2007) and The Power Plant in Toronto (2007). His work is in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

“Super-sensitive, exquisitely impressionable, it was part of her temperament to fall under a new influence every quarter of an hour…Often the fugitive marvels of the Sunset would linger with her in an afterglow entirely personal, and some of her lunar effects were extremely fine.”

-The Artificial Princess, by Ronald Firbank

Ronald Firbank’s Baroness’ capacity to receive the tint of nature illustrates the relationship of reflections between figure and landscape that are so important to this exhibition. It is an act of suffusion compatible with Whistler’s notion of environmental coloration, where a subject in a picture is merely a hue informed by the totality of the entire scene. Titled Venice, Venice, the cities’ name is muse, and refers to the two Venices – in Italy and in California - as conduits for transference of signification between the figure and place.

These figures and landscapes continue the ideas of refraction and the uncanny present in P.’s portrait work, faces with their amorphous movement through time and gender. The works favor the minor practices of pastel, watercolor and print-making to produce atmospheric effects, misty or shimmering, rendered in aqueous or scumbled application, showing their analogy with the multiple marginal qualities of the figures portrayed (slight, feminine, nude, performing, receding into dim shadows or dissolving into sunlight). The intimate scale underscores the picture’s sketchy and ephemeral aspects combining to produce scenes that transfer the temperaments of the portrait to the figure, the figure to its space, and to lead the space (charged this way) into becoming a singular, distinctive place.

The name of Venice is exceptional and its image has been described endlessly, to the point where it occupies the position of an honest cliché. Aqua Alta in Saint Mark’s square, or any of Venice’s constant watery doublings, provides an overwhelming image - a literal delineation of the real and the chimerical are instantly confused into a mise-en-abîme of storied evocations of sex, death and the mystical. Similarly the meeting of sea, sky and the Santa Monica Mountains viewed from Venice Beach creates the effect of another type of mirroring, one of equal obfuscation. In Proust’s In Search of Lost Time the narrator speaks of the landscapes of the painter Elstir, whose works of sky, sea and land meet so uncannily on the horizon that while they verge on imperceptible from one another, they flood the narrator, from the first glimpse, with the sensation of having known them precisely, before knowing what they were.

Different from the Arcadian or the natural sublime, here the interest is in the temporal nature of the location, of crepuscular or nocturnal settings, and places where urban transactions give implication to the forms of the landscape. Allied with the dissolve of the Flâneur, who blends among the crowds, the movements and gaze of cruising and erotic pursuit can set up a mystic subterfuge, an artifice that wishes the figure onto the landscape or at least provides the giddy dissolve of the viewer into the night.

Permissive and carnivalesque, Venice Beach was a location for much of the seventies and early eighties gay erotic legend in America. William Higgins’ magical film The Boys of Venice provides a more privileged view and an imagined counterpart to the lesbian antics of Proust’s ‘Petite Bande’ on the beach in Balbec. The boardwalk retains its mystique in the loitering, louche and vaguely plied trade of its denizens, recalling the reputation of old Venice, with its gondoliers, courtesans and the suggestively masked availability of the Carnival that are missing today. Only the echolalia of Venice, in its architecture’s reflection, in red light in water, and winding canals and crumbling portico, are indices of these fascinations that now only find their lucky, sympathetic and persistent form in the dream-like aspects of their natural effects. It is a nagging illustrative paradox between fantasy and reality with its examples of uncanny improbability, mysterious coloration, and ease of association with the body, and for time travel between the present and more sensual epochs

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