PRESS RELEASE I XAVIER NOIRET-THOMÉ & TOMEK PARTYKA
Xavier Noiret-Thomé I Ghosts
Tomek Partyka I X Times X
Roberto Polo is pleased to present simultaneously – for the first time – two solo exhibitions in the recently extended gallery: Xavier Noiret-Thomé | Ghosts, twenty-five recent paintings in acrylic and mixed media on canvas, and Tomek Partyka | X Times X, over twenty recent oil and mixed media paintings on canvas.
Xavier Noiret-Thomé, trained at the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts in Rennes and subsequently at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, was born in 1971 in Charleville-Mézières, France. In 2000, he settled in Brussels, where he lives and works. Noiret-Thomé was awarded the Levis Prize of the Young Belgian Art competition in 2001. Winner of the Académie de France in Rome in 2005, he obtained a residency at the Villa Medici. Since the beginning of his career, Noiret-Thomé has often exhibited solo and collectively throughout Europe.
Erudite artist, equally impassioned by the visual arts and history, literature and film, Noiret-Thomé sources his work from multiple references while synchronously asserting a personal style, animated by gestural and intellectual freedom. Marked by ‘low culture’ (graffiti, comic strips) from the start and by the audacity of Picabia, he overthrows conventional painting by multiplying and mixing his media (acrylic, spray, ink, collage, industrial paint...). From his series ‘Monochrome-Chrome’, to his object collages, and on to his ‘all-over’ compositions, Noiret-Thomé, reticent to all traditional forms of expression, constantly submits his paintings to experimentation, convinced by the need to free his work from the constraints and codes of pre-established orders. Without dissimulating his admiration for many artists as diverse as Guston, Picasso, Basquiat, Polke, Malevich, Pollock or Manzoni, Noiret-Thomé strives for iconoclastic gestures to escape from the influence of his masters and create his original form of pictorial expression. Artist insubordinate to convention, seduced by both figuration and abstraction, Noiret-Thomé relentlessly seeks to reinvent himself while incessantly learning from the past and discovering new sources of inspiration. His protean works, while cherishing their rich artistic heritage, throw with a facetious subtlety an irreverent look at a purist conception of painting. It is a kind of painting which places one in a world of shifting, opening and closing spaces, lightning connections between disparities, and sheer visual intelligence.
Tomek Partyka, graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, was born in 1978 in Graudenz, Poland. He lives and works in Warsaw. The artist has often exhibited in solo and collectively throughout Europe and the United States.
At first glance, Partyka’s painting plunges us, without transition, into a crude universe, penetrated by impetuous and antagonistic forces. His works appear as deliberately damaged palimpsests, battered surfaces, sometimes crossed-out, sometimes roughly scratched, collaged and/or decollaged. Along with his roughly etched, resonant and incantatory words, Partyka invokes fragments of Old Master paintings. Caravaggio, Courbet, Matejko, Rembrandt, Rothko, Velázquez and Vermeer coalesce in his personal and anarchic rewriting of art history. Partyka blithely vandalises his canvases, frankly trampling conventions. "The more I destroy it, the better it gets", he says about his painting – not without provocation. It is not about seeing pure negation, encouraged by his sombre palette, but about dissident non-conformism against establishment art, a rebellious “NO”, all powerful and proudly proclaimed. His process of methodical destruction is not only sourced in the ‘décollage’ technique of Wolf Vostell, protagonist of the Fluxus movement, but also in the tradition of punk culture, the sovereign of all transgressions. Through this assumed nihilism, symbolized by an 'X' of denial, Partyka paints quasi-primitively, with loaded and savage brushstrokes, mixing feathers, animal bones and human hair. It is certainly irreverent and ironic to paint a portrait of the illustrious Jan Matejko incorporating hair, but above all, it reveals a vision that is committed to the history of art, a contemporary artist’s desire to reclaim an artistic legacy that takes him from east to west.
Partyka is literally, physically and metaphysically implicated in his canvases. His entire œuvre can be understood as a form of self-portraiture. It is, indeed, a genuine quest for personal identity, motivated by a reflection on existence, which is woven into his canvases. What may seem an anarchic protest is, in fact, a sophisticated and intelligent composition, resounding like a philosophical conundrum. Not unlike the generation of New Realists, shaken by the devastations of the Second World War, Partyka’s apparently nihilistic process of damaging his paintings, is simply his ‘maniera’ of seasing the instinctual dimension of creation, an integral part of life and death. Despite seeming impulsive, bestial and pregnant with fetishism, his paintings emerge rationally and intellectually-reflected. Each painting requires meticulous preparatory work: thus all accidents – explosions, paint drips, scribblings, stains – are masterfully controlled, giving birth to a profoundly carnal, powerful and brilliant art. In the manner of a shaman, Tomek Partyka questions and reconciles the forces of nature and the spiritual energy of the human.