JP Paul: Anonymous Memories
"Anonymous Memories: Nothing That a Lick of Paint Cant Obliterate" marks a return to non-digital mixed media work by JP Paul. The series of 15 works depicts pages from a dynamic journal or scrapbook that is constantly updated to reflect the owner or artist's attempts to refocus the current by redefining historical references and influences. 5 works are currently available for purchase at AltSur Gallery.
The series is monotone, minimal and raw. Ripped pages rest atop the remnants of previous whitewashed pages as well as leftover glue that once fastened other layers of pages. Glue becomes the sole survivor of removed thoughts, phrases and images. Ripped sticky labels are typed and fastened to previous labels.
Dimensions are decidely smaller than previous series as JP Paul seeks to create a personal scale and intimate relationship between viewer and viewed.
According to the artist, "I wanted to explore the concept of lives constantly morphing, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Through these changes, perceptions of our past and future evolve, hence the constant attempt to reinterpret or reshape our history through certain critical references even if the end game is only a realignment for the future rather than any fruitless attempt to alter the past."
"These journals have a dynamic nature to them; they seemingly a life of their own. I see this as an inconsistency with the fill 'em up 'n forget 'em nature of most scrapbooks or photo albums. Clearly there is a motive for storing specific memories in the first place and another very different motive for redefining or wiping them out entirely. I see this as a universal message about memories. We've all had them, including those we'd like to forget, thus the nod to anonymity and interchangability that I think adds to the reach and interaction of the work."
The works can be seen as somber, almost defeatist, but the artist is quick to note that they serve as a positive reminder that no situation is so dire that it can't be remedied. Labels are purposely ambiguous for this reason as each viewer attaches personal relevance.
5 of 15 works from Anonymous Memories
Q & A with the Artist
AF - Okay, so we let you out of our sight for awhile and you go off on a few more tangents! Your new works are decidely organic, physical and materials based. What's with the 180 degree flip, save for the title of course which is soooo JP Paul as you continue to explore the visual and written arts in parallel.
JP - Haa! For sure,"Nothing That A Lick of Paint Can't Obliterate" is definitely a mouthful but it does describe the series well in both of its connotations, negative and positve.
It's nice to be back working more closely with the visual arts world but I don't think it was such a radical transformation. My works, even the early digital stuff, were always physical. They incorporated numerous elements that were never straight printing. All the digital works I brought to market were one-of-a-kinds. I know there are skeptics and cynics including some of my colleagues who say that digital art can never been one-of-a-kind, not even 'editions' limited to some arbitrary number. I cry "BS!" I know many artists who use the computer as just one facet of the production cycle and combine them with other layers or elements..Their works, like mine, are one offs in the purest form of the word even though parts of the underlying content may be appropriated from reproduceable digital files.
We're not talking dabs of paint over a giclee to give it that hand-touched narrative, nor textured transparent oversprays. Instead there are artists who conceive their work in a form that incorporates both digital and traditional methods and materials from inception. Everything else is just moving tools around like deck chairs. Sorry for the rant. I just feel there are still too many traditionalists in the art world who need to stop dragging their heels over new art forms.
Back to the question. I'm still very involved with digital imaging and alternative arts. My latest series that you mentioned, Anonymous Memories, is not digital because I feel it works better when actual physical layers of torn pictures and papers become the content and the message. I probably could have gone digital, made the works far larger and profited accordingly. I didn't because I want this series to be more personal, more intimate, a reminder that can be placed closer to our most important physical spaces. There was no need to emulate this with digital, in fact I think the rawness, the crude ripping of the paintings' layers and the leftover glue from under layers become major aesthetic and conceptual points of the work.
Looking back, though, the idea came during a digital moment while we were cataloguing the Perez Franco Estate archives. Carlos kept copious notes and drawings of his worldwide travels and classwork in paper scrapbooks. They created a timeline of his development as a person, a father, an architect and ultimately as the brilliant visual artist that he became. My fear is that these delicate works, some over 65 years old, will deteriorate due to Uruguay's excessive humidity and ozone-layer free sun. We're thinking of digitizing all of the journals to present them in some format. Parallel to this, I noted that pages of the scrapbooks often had photos that had fallen off, descriptions that had been wiped out and replaced, even sketches that he erased in order to align a new idea. This became the seed for the series.
Q - So the series is essentially an homage to memories of your late father-in-law?
A. - Not really, no. Perhaps partially in some subconscious way since the idea was fomented after reviewing his journals. There's no doubt that Perez Franco was my primary influence, not only as an artist but as a man. In this series I wanted to explore the concept of our lives constantly morphing, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Call it a realignment with what we were, what we are and how we any potential dichotomies. The final image labelling is 100% my references based on my tangents and transitions. Carlos saw life differently than me even though we shared many common values and priorities. To say he is somehow embedded in this work, then yes, that's obviously true.
Q - I notice only 5 works from the series on the AltSur site. I was led to believe there were 15 in total. Holding back on us?
A - I confess! Actually, 5 went to patrons who have supported me since early in my art career. They're kind enough to purchase something from most series I create and always get in early... touch wood! The other 5 are reserved pending interest from a North American gallery. Uruguay is a very small but vibrant art market. It's not necessary that we have too many works here since the season is very short, albeit intense. Best to have works also available for the North American market which is the core of our business at this stage. And as we move to a more internet-centric global model, this becomes even more imperative that fulfillment is quick and cost effective.
Q - You're now more heavily involved with AltSur Gallery and the contemporary art scene. Any special impetus?
A - As you are well aware, AltSur is the visual art business wing under the Artfronts umbrella. I've been active with this group for over 15 years online and over 30 years as a bricks & mortar representive for North and South American artists. Artfronts remains an arts information portal with valuable information for educators and consultants. AltSur is the ecommerce platform for persons who would like to purchase art from the CPF Estate as well as my works or those of a half dozen current artists who we represent. Included in that group is Jay Makins who shares my interest in exploring digital image processes through traditional methods and materials. His recentand under per mid-sized work, he's an up and comer you won't want to miss. Actually, many of AltSur's artists have taken a similar traditional - digital - traditional 360 path and frequently explore both.
AltSur represents JP Paul. For more information about existing and upcoming work, please contact them.