P.P et Rafael Gray exhibition / 16.12.2010 - 29.01.2011
Two painters, two visions, two friends, and a conversation. How did we get to this place where these two very different personalities have so much to express, for almost 30 years now? Where each relies on the other to complete their train of thought? They have followed a path, a path which has diverged from time to time, and are finally coming ogether again to start afresh on a seemingly distant point. However, this point turns out to be not so distant at all. It is understood that the conversation continues, though without spoken words, just a mutual repect shared between them and a rare level of profound understanding.
But what, then, are their styles? The character behind their brush strokes are quite different.
PP works with color and proclamations. It is a sort of work where the material has a heavy presence -- not in the masses of paint, spread with a palette knife -- but in an organic relationship with the medium. What matters maybe even more than the image, is the effort behind the process-- burning the linoleum, applying the paint with a roller, spreading and gluing the paper to the canvas; it's the implicit dance of the actions. The action is repeated, and in doing so, the artist and the material establish a solidarity. At first, his work was characterized by a a purely material relationship, one of color, of line -- abstraction. But this has shifted, and for quite some time, the work appears to be more about the representation of subject matter. Ecology, human expression through the body, sports, dance, and finally, more recently, the ideas of the body of/at work, the refugee or the immigrant. It's a thoughtful gesture, one that repeats itself day by day, year by year, one where the canvas becomes a representation of the physicality of the experience -- hence the emphasis on the ephemerality of the work of this artist, an artist who continues to display in the street. Only a few days of rain will only leave scattered fragments of tissue paper from his work, maybe only a word or a face.
The other artist, Rafael Gray, represents another sort of pictorial context: the painting as a performance or a spectacle, the recurrence of the stage, and of large-scale work. This context emphasizes primary colors, and visual contrasts. He is attracted to 35 mm film and installations where depth exists and where the canvas is treated as a a stage; these ideas almost always play a central role in his art. And then, there are his subjects : bullfights, the circus, and of course the naked woman on display, larger than life (Russ Meyer, with a family link to Darlene Gray?). Desire is global; here, we're approaching a canvas that is dramatically all-encompassing, like paintings that travel around the world. What's taking place is ultimately a metaphysical way of thinking; however, it's this way of thinking that fundamentally, by its method and ambition, must stop, pause. This is because the spectacle must re-establish itself, find new purpose, make revisions. Here, we don't follow so much the gesture, but the thought, the experience, these moments of joy and anguish, all in pursuit of the most powerful impact possible.
Final question: where is the meeting point between these two apparently diverging styles and aesthetics? What they have in common is the physical place-- the street, and the idea of advertising. In terms of advertising, PP rests in political advertising, while Rafael is on the side of performance, spectacle-based advertising. But finally it is the street that brings them together in a complementary way, where each expresses their admiration for the other in a symbolic continuation of a friendship that remains just as special as when it began. Their meeting took place in the world of graffiti in the early 80s, and even though life has changed formats, ideas, media, and even styles, this consistent return to the street is a sign of two soul mates who meet again, who find youth, freedom and reason, even in their mature style. Allow your eyes to follow the traces of this conversation and be aware that you are suspended in a sublime act of continuous sharing.