Almanac of Contemporary Aesthetics
POL 6

DUTY OF MEMORY

Originating from an eclectic spectrum of references—from Caribbean mythology and lap-dance culture, to voodoo rituals and trap music—the work of Pol Taburet (French, b. 1997, lives and works in Paris) echoes a post-ideology generational feeling.

Interview by Rhea Dillon
RDWhy do you make art and why now?
PTI always wanted to make art and it turns out that something is starting to take shape now. I really enjoyed the first lockdown, when I was holed up with my paintings. It was a new experience for me to focus on myself and with no one to hang out with I didn’t do anything but paint. But it’s been quite a dark year even with the beautiful things I’ve found.
RDDo you think of art as a reflection of a globalised culture?
PTDefinitely, though this ‘reflection’ can also be a fantasy we create for ourselves. We try to see things that we would like to see. Several artists have inspired me to integrate gestures, rituals & ideas specific to their cultures—I’m thinking of Antonio Oba, David Hammons, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Meese. These are artists who have given me a taste of a history, a culture, or a time. I hope to transmit this sense of reflection through my work. I’m not focusing on a specific culture but sometimes there are things that escape and appear on their own.
RDCould you discuss how Caribbean mythology is fundamental to both your work and your life?
PTCaribbean mythology is a major inspiration, especially in my “Opera I” series. For me it’s a wealth of images, references and stories that allow me to create a kind of formal language. There is an idea of transmission as well. Because these ideas have been transmitted to me verbally by my mother, my aunt, my grandmother or my friends they take on an even greater meaning to me. There’s also this idea of creolisation in these beliefs, that ideas that have resisted many attempts of crushing and suppression. In order to survive, these ideas and narratives have mutated. These mutations and transformations that I find in my life and work often have what I’d call a “fundamental aspect” or even a “duty of memory.”
RDYou’ve previously mentioned you don’t think about your compositions before painting. How do you determine the composition and subject?
GBH 2021 R0121 Pol Taburet 004
PTIt varies. Sometimes I visualise my compositions; I try to create a mental image that’s as detailed as possible. Often all that remains when I’m in front of the canvas is a skeleton of that psychic image. It’s very frustrating and a little chaotic, but can often lead to beautiful surprises.
RDHow did you develop ‘transformation’ as a topic in your practice?
PTThe moment of transformation is captured by contrasting and confronting forms in my paintings. Opposition lives in the works; life/death, soft/violent, vaporous/solid, in motion/static, tenderness/cruelty. But there is also the transformation of bodies: humans transformed into wild animals or objects with curves that suggest bodies. Sometimes it is obvious and we perceive it but in some paintings the body is not figurative, rather it is dissimulated in the colour and in what it evokes in us. I consider the airbrush as a tool that feeds my pictorial language as it allows me to make another movement, see differently and add another texture, making other transformations possible.
RDDo you find using different mediums to be crucial to your development?
PTCrucial is the right word. I’m often afraid that my paintings will run out of breath, so in order to surprise myself, I impose reversals, or mini chaoses that will perhaps lead to new mistakes. Stepping back I love these moments of discomfort and change. Without them, creation would feel a routine or like a job.
RDYou have a new show coming up, can you share more?
PTYes, I’m very excited about this show. It will take place in the new CLEARING gallery space in Beverly Hills. It will be a painting-only exhibition from a new series that I can’t wait to introduce. Aside from that, I’m working on a sculpture with a group of works. I don’t know when or where it will be presented yet, but it will be mechanical and the public will be able to interact with it. When it’s exhibited I’d like it to be a complete experience, awakening things in us other than the ‘staticity’ or volume of a painting. I’m very enthusiastic and motivated by the people who are supporting me.

Portrait photo credit: Hugo Comte. Image courtesy of the artist.

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