Saturday, August 16, 2008

Taiyo la Paix

When I first saw Taiyo la Paix's large flourished and colorful narrative paintings last year at the Asheville Art Museum's "Make It New" exhibit I couldn't get my head around them. I wanted to automatically place them in a category but I wasn't sure which one. Was this a new brand of Japanese pop surrealism? Low brow art? High brow art? Hipster Art? Hallmark art? Did a woman or a man paint them? I stood there for a long time looking at the bright paintings that depicted a hot young couple - a buxom redhead and a skinny rock star guy - reveling in the thrill of city life, lost in their private world and unaffected by the people, birds and city that moved around them. I found myself envying the couple, and envying this painter whoever he/she was who seemed to live a crazy free and glamorous life, and walked away thinking that whatever kind of art it is, I really really liked it.

A few months later I got some answers when I received a press release about an upcoming show at FLOOD gallery featuring more of la Paix's paintings and sketches. I discovered that the cute redhead, affectionately named Papillia was actually a fictitious character that la Paix had obsessively created from his mind. It was so wild to me because Papillia seemed exactly like a person I might know, or have known - not anyone specific, but just "that girl." That fun, flirty, slightly self conscious girl with an overbite and awesome wardrobe. I was amazed at the depth to which la Paix had created this person - right down to her cowboy boots.
I couldn't stop looking at
Pearl of the Deep Seas where Papillia is staring at herself in a mirror, a look of apprehension on her face as she holds a magazine and nervously twists an earring - profound social commentary delivered to the viewer via a delicious palette of pinks and roses and hearts.

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