Title. Double click me.
By David Kaiser
Paul Paddock’s paintings are modern fairytales and mythologies that have yet to be written. The artist has created an inimitable visual vocabulary that gracefully draws the viewer into his wondrous landscapes with deceptively shiny and seemingly simple images. His delicate paintings evoke the wisp of a memory of a dream that you are trying to remember—or perhaps a nightmare that you are trying to forget. Paddock’s work often employs imagery similar to that of fairy tales. But upon closer inspection, Paddock’s images are not what they seem. They are populated by figures that arise from the artist’s singular vision and imagination, drawing influence from everything from the Brothers Grimm to the Torah and Old Testament. The artist’s work explores relationships: social, intimate, sexual, and an individual’s relationship to the world that they’re in. Paddock’s figurative work is beautiful, yet unsettling at the same time.
Paddock’s technique is reminiscent of artwork found in children’s books. The viewer is drawn in through their familiarity with the aesthetic. After closer inspection, it becomes clear that the content is much more complex than traditional children’s books. In the tradition of artists such as Edward Gorey and Henry Darger, the central figures in Paddock’s works are children, but they are hardly puerile. The artist’s backdrop is a glaring white, equally as important a character in the images as the characters that populate them. In each piece, Paddock creates this dazzling void and adds just enough detail for the viewer to conjure a story for him or herself about just what it is that’s happening or just what may happen next. He creates a magnificently eerie world, where exquisite birch trees bear witness to myriad sinister encounters between children. Power and sexual dynamics play out in the artist’s forest mindscapes, the quietly menacing trees suggesting a devilish cathedral.
The children depicted by Paddock cavort with fantastical juxtapositions of human and animal forms. Snakes slither among some of the figures, bringing to mind the primordial. In many of his works, Paddock plays with scale, creating curious adversaries and alliances: A Lilliputian girl gestures, arms outstretched, at a giant panda bear surrounded by blood and tiny human bones, his mouth dripping with blood. What is the little girl’s role in this horrific scene? The viewer is left to ponder whether the characters are hurting each other, playing a game, or both. Is a serious transgression about to take place? Has it already taken place? Paddock’s works are intricate, sly, and elaborate visions that resonate long after being seen for the first time.
Paddock’s art provides the viewer with the thrilling sensation of stealing a glimpse into a private, forbidden world. The artist often represents himself in various guises. Whether he manifests as the moon, presiding over a dazzling crystal-clear landscape or appears as a child in the foreground of an aggressive and perhaps violent sexual encounter, the artist’s psyche is on prominent display. Paul Paddock has created a magical yet tangible universe that circumscribes our brightest hopes and reveals our darkest impulses and deepest fears. A unicorn appears in one of his newest works. The mythical creature is stabbed by a little girl and bleeds rainbow blood. By commingling comforting and unsettling images, Paddock’s work illustrates the fine line between life and death, joy and pain, and reveals the beauty and grace within both realms.
Lamono Feature 'Suenos Pequenos' or 'Little Dreams' PDF
Let the Devil Dance: New Works on Paper by Paul Paddock
By Norman Douglas
Paul Paddock's images take aim at illustration, specifically composing figures evocative of children’s books, a vocabulary consciously created by people aware of the fact that children gather information visually for longer than they use language—spoken and written. Our familiarity with the argot of printed pictures, —primer pictographs that inform the screen world around us, an old slang that grabs our attention, a language still used for better and worse—draws us in. The content is far from any children’s book we might’ve read.
Paddock explores relationships, one’s relationships to the world one lives in: social relations, intimate relations, sexual relations, violent relations. These paintings illustrate personal fairytales, cautionary tales, mythologies, fables. He draws—sometimes inspired, sometimes destructive—influences from the Brothers Grimm to the Old Testament. Like most kids growing up in the 1980s bombarded by stories of satanic cults, toasters in the bathwater, cattle mutilations, nuclear war, ominous white vans, child abductions, the ubiquitous car accident, childhood recalls not only innocence, but unmindful, oblivious relationships free of meaning, less than love. Pairing content and form, depicted amid the white or negative space of the cerebral, these imaginary images—impossibly dreamlike, metaphors of memories—expose the invisible. Trees, stones, machinery, the body; each character derives from the idea of its beauty, in addition to an idea of its corruption and degradation.
Once children, our experience of life begins with childhood fear, illusion, disappointment; and overall catharsis. Sticking to personal experiences or fears, Paddocks refers to the slow-motion space before and after acts of love and sex, or fits of violence and cruelty. By visually encrypting personal phobias and shortcomings, the work leaves room for viewers to fill in the blanks, lets them either relate or be repelled. In any case, the viewer has been touched.
Sleep Paralysis/Owls Are Not What They Seem places a pair of boys in uniform dress restraining a girl at the center of the canvas to the slope of a hillock; Gulliver comes to mind, the hysteria of little people in the throes of discovery. A birdhouse-headed adult has removed himself to an arguably safe distance, as if boxed away in plain sight, hands in pockets, between a waiting van and the blood red petals strewn like a rusted horseshoe around the abduction. Tiamat/Let the Devil Dance II brings to mind the dwarves who rule on the shoulders of giants, the owl who commands through wisdom and predation, vision and swiftness and upon the backs of the primitive and playful. Unwanted Appendage/Succubus alludes to the complexity of conspiracy, the mutual aid that bonds one to the other, assisted mutilation in a desperate bid to change identity. Venial Loss of Grace/Harvest Moon may be the most starkly journalistic piece, its horror the most complete, what remains unseen is obscene enough to turn the station wagon into a tomb, corrupted convenience becomes roadside road-kill, torture, bondage. Fuckin’ Harlequins gives the series its narrative—not that one was needed. Whether the revenge or the original sin of the captive girl from Sleep Paralysis... the story's circle is outlined. The way one guts a deer.
1974-2016, New York
1997—BFA—School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
2000–01—Empire State Independent Studio Program, New York, NY
2012—Let the Devil Dance, PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, frosch & portmann gallery, New York, NY
2007—Season of the Witch—Buia Gallery, New York, NY
2004—Piggy’s New Gang—Buia Gallery, New York, NY
1999—Crash and Burn—LIFE Gallery, New York, NY
2015—The Raw and The Cooked, Curated by Dennis Dawson, frosch & portmann gallery, New York, NY
Free Arts NYC Annual Benefit Art Auction, New York, NY
2014—In the Company of Ghosts, (2 person show with Dennis Dawson), frosch & portmann gallery, New York, NY
Spring/Break Art Show, Curated by Kathleen Cullen, New York, NY
Blind Intersections, Curated by Terrence Michael Carroll, The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, Pittsburgh, PA
2012—ACE Benefit Auction, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Eric Sherman Foundation, New York, NY
2010—First Street Green: First Street Park Benefit, First Street Galley, New York, NY
2008—Untitled (Group Show), BUIA Gallery, New York, NY
2006—Animals in Art—Curated by J. Susan Isaacs, Ph.D. / Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE
2005—White Box’s Auction Benefit 2005—White Box, New York, NY
Young Paintings—Jonathan Shorr Gallery, New York, NY
In the Ring—Buia Gallery, New York, NY
Artists for Tsunami Relief—New York Daily News Charities/Phillips de Pury & Co., New York, NY
2004—And One for Grandma—Capsule Gallery, New York, NY
Primo (A Year in Review)—Buia Gallery, New York, NY
Sympathetic Nerve, curated by Peter Rad and Ofer Wolberger/Capsule Gallery, New York, NY
Other Worlds— Buia Gallery, New York, NY
2003—Party Congress—Curated by Anna Lisa Donovan, Brooklyn, ny
2002—Nature of Things—Curated by Anna Lisa Donovan/Open Ground, Brooklyn, NY
Momenta Art Benefit 2002—organized by Eric Heist/Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY/White Columns, New York, NY
2001—Hello Schoolgirls—Curated by Monya Rowe/Fish Tank Gallery. Brooklyn, NY
Beekiller's Autumn Showcase: The Best of 2001—OPEN Gallery, New York, NY
1998—Southern Blots and Apricots, curated by Charlotte Byrd Hagen-Cazes/C.B. Space, New York, NY
1997—Works on Paper—Visual Arts Gallery (Wooster St.), New York, NY
2015—Résidences Décorations (France), "In New York with... Pol Theis," December issue, p. 70
Elle Decorations magazine (Philippines), P&T Interiors feature, January issue
Lamono magzine (Spain), "Paul Paddock: Small Dreams," by Eva Villazala; Issue #102–PLAY ON, May, p. 84-93
2012—artinfo.com, From Robotic Dogs to Blood Paintings: 10 Picks From PULSE New York
thisweekinnewyyork.com, Inside PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, May 12th
Exhibition A (exhibitiona.com), Collectors Q&A: David Kaiser; April issue
2005—Donovan, Ana Lisa (interview), beekiller.net, July, Issue 20
2004—Freidling, Melissa Pearl, “New York, New York: Art Fragments from the Big Apple,” Flash Art, March/April, p. 61
Cerbini, Lorenza, “Alla Buia Gallery si Festeggia con ‘Primo,’ America Oggi, June 27, 2004, p. 9
2002—Douglas, Norman, WORDS, foil magazine, November
2001—New York Post (“Page Six”), 11/14, Hello Schoolgirls
2000 – present—beekiller.net, [flat files]
1998—New York Times Magazine (11/30)
2014—The Honorary Title—LP, “Anything Else But the Truth," [10th Anniversay/Limited Editon] Album artwork (Enjoy the Ride Records)
2013—Paul Paddock: My Unholy Lightheartedness, Work from 2002–2013, Foreword by David Kaiser,
(Blurb Books / http://www.blurb.com/b/4514951-paul-paddock)
2012—The Dirty Faces—LP, “Underground Economy,” Album artwork and design
2008—Portraits of Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg, Interview magazine, November issue
2007—The Honorary Title—EP and CD, “Untouched and Intact,” Album artwork (Warner Bros.)
The Honorary Title—LP and CD, “Scream and Light Up the Sky,” Album artwork (Warner Bros.)
2006—Ironbound—CD, “With a Brick” Album artwork, photography, and design (Ironbound Records)
2004—The Honorary Title—LP and CD, “Anything Else But the Truth,” Album artwork (Doghouse Records)
2003—The Honorary Title—LP and CD, “Everything I Once Had,” Album artwork and design
Pol Theis (private collection)
Richard Massey: The Massey Foundation
Jean Pigozzi: Pigossi American Contemporary Collection, NY
Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts (DCCA)