Paul P. : Amor et Mors
From Venice to Venice Beach, explore art history through the eyes of one of Canada’s most compelling contemporary artists.
Toronto-based artist Paul P.’s distinctive practice mines the past, forging links between contemporary and historical periods on the cusp of change. His paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings find inspiration in a range of sources: neoclassical sculpture of the 1700s, the art of James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), the arch mannerism of poet Robert de Montesquiou (1855–1921), and storied places such as Venice, Italy, and its contemporary counterpart, Venice Beach, California. The cornerstone of his artistic project is an extensive series of portraits of young men appropriated from pre-AIDS erotic photographs. This series shares an affinity with the work of certain artists of the late 1800s who defied the prevailing morality of their time and furthered a secret language of coded homosexuality.
In this exhibition, a group of thirty recently acquired works created by Paul P. between 2003 and 2019 here act as portals for time travel between art-historical periods. In this way, they form a dialogue with a selection of other artworks from the National Gallery of Canada’s collection.