At a time when viruses attack computers more often than people, and phones are bugged with increasingly sophisticated technologies, it makes perfect sense to come across Paul Paiement’s pictures of insects that look as if they were made by Dr. Frankenstein’s great-grandchild. These lovely watercolors marry art and science to serve up the visual equivalent of verbal puns: witty collisions among various meanings that lead to confusion and nonsense – not to mention delight and wonder. Unlike most types of research and development, art puts the bugs back into the system, where they make life more interesting.
David Pagel is a critic who writes for the Los Angeles Times.
Contemporary life is crawling with multi-tasking,fusion food, hybrid vehicles and all manner of inter-disciplinary practices. In this milieu, Paul Paiement’s luminous Hybrids sparkle with wit and incisive social commentary. He choreographs his crossbred love children of insects and alluring consumer products into a gloriously tinted Busby Berkeley dance. These are images of eye-popping artificiality that are as frightening as they are gorgeous.
They’ve been around long before we were, and will doubtless gasp their last long after we do. So we’ve been accommodating ourselves to the manifold species of insect, from eradicating them to eating them to domesticating them, for about as long as we’ve been doing anything conscious. In this respect Paul Paiement’s need to consider insects as art is not so unusual. What is of remark is the wit, skill, and delicacy with which Paiement transforms these critters — or, rather, finds their inherent beauty in his own elegant, exacting compositions. That’s what makes a bookful of Paiement’s buggy meditations enchanting rather than merely zoological. Here, beauty is in the bee of the beholder.
Insects’ lowly status in the animal kingdom affords their bodies a built-in ingenuity that the bodies of thinking, feeling, fleshly creatures lack. Into his lifelike images of these tiny eating-, flying-, reproducing-, and killing-machines, Paul Paiement limns their high-tech doppelgangers: car, plane, helicopter, sports shoe, speedboat, hand grenade. And he does this in colors as bright and synthetic – and as enticing and sweet – as tomorrow’s new candy.
Laguna Wilderness Press is pleased to announce the publication of Hybrids 1.0-3.5, a 96-page book examining the paintings of Los Angeles artist, Paul Paiement. With its unique design, Hybrids 1.0-3.5 will feature over 50 color plates of Paiement’s extraordinary work, as well as essays by renowned art writers Christopher Miles and Rebecca Neiderlander and an interview by Laguna Art Museum’s Chief Curator, Tyler Stallings.
Acting at once as a painter, scientist, and entomologist, Paul Paiement, creates a unique wonderland, combining common everyday consumer objects into an über-species of colorful bugs, butterflies, beetles, and more. Paiement draws on the skill of a scientist to paint his perfectly formed species on panels that range from perfect circles and squares to isosceles triangles. Employing the age-old technique of egg tempera, Paiement is able to achieve a wonderful luster in his panel paintings. His day-glo species rest against pristine white backgrounds suggesting an entomologist’s gleaming examination table. Paiement skillfully plays with ideas of manipulation and mass production, whereby his subjects aresplit evenly in two as if wrapped around the panel itself, or replicated numerous times in a varied palette of colors. The effect is playful, yet thought-provoking; in a time when the science of cloning, and the constant desire to make people, animals, and goods faster and better has reached a fever pitch, these paintings may also read as subversive. Despite being made up of lively colors and amusing gadgets, these “bugs” caution us that we, too, are increasingly subject to
such exploitation.To order Hybrids 1.0 – 3.5, please visit www.lagunawildernesspress.com or www.amazon.com