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The Evolution Of Hybrids (version 2.0)

            My informative years were deeply influenced by the Punk and Post-Punk manifestos emerging from late 1970’s and early 80’s. As an angry teenager growing up in middle-America, I responded to the raw, unrefined energy of the minimal, stripped down three-chord rock blaring from my phonograph. As my awareness, passion and knowledge grew, the musicians who influenced me also matured and developed. Their second and third recordings transformed their anger and energy in new, refreshing and innovative statements. Philosophically, they remained committed to their ideals, but their sound became more polished and sophisticated. Their progressive, refined recordings authorized their statements and challenged their audience to think differently about mainstream music. Like the Post-punk musicians, I am deeply committed to challenging what we (as a culture and society) take for granted. Specifically, my highly refined work challenges the foundation of our art-historical canon. My mission is to question, investigate, redefine, and reposition our notion of painting in the digital world.

           My work has always questioned the fundamental elements that comprise a painting. My Hybrids I series challenges the tradition of easel painting and the necessity for a framing device. I’ve rejected the antiquated notion of oil on canvas. Instead, I want my paintings to appear as apparitions to the viewer. Influenced by installation art, I’ve chosen to have my paintings become one with the wall—integrated into the architecture, not a distinct statement, but a complimentary one. I’ve done this by painting on sheets of acrylic that are routed into desired shapes. The cut shapes are painted on very thin pieces (1/4 inch) of acrylic, while the ones I want to extend off the wall are on thicker ones (1 inch). Each piece is attached to the wall using magnets. The pieces are then layered on top of each other. The magnets allow for either temporary or permanent installation on any wall while maintaining the appearance that the painting is site specific.

          Like my Punk predecessors I’ve always believed that “less is more.” Every element in my work is purposeful and necessary—everything is deliberate, nothing is superfluous. Since the inception of my Hybrids series, I have always rejected the need for a ground (background). Instead, my minimal aesthetic reinforces references to the clinical laboratory of the entomologist and the presentation of insect specimen in natural history museums. This reference is important because it emphasizes the anatomy of the insect from a clinical perspective. Most importantly, it questions the concept of “objectivity” in scientific practices.

          My primary investigation has always been visual perception and how we interpret our experience. I am endlessly fascinated by the fact that two people can witness the same occurrence, but interpret it differently. Our subjectivity is our experience. And, it defines who we are. I choose to express this concept metaphorically. I use insects as subject matter in my creations for a number of reasons. Their body structure shows rotational symmetry which allows the viewer to compare and contrast halves and quadrants. Also, slight in scale, insects are more often recognized by the general shapes of their bodies, rather than the details of their forms. Lastly, insect specimens are often displayed in natural history museums the same way art is displayed in galleries.

          My choice of objects to morph into insect bodies is based on the object’s similarity in shape to the insect’s shape. I search for easily recognizable inorganic forms that reflect technological advancements in commercial consumption. I enjoy the humor in recontextualizing common objects by putting them into bug shapes.

          I choose to render my subjects in paint rather than through photography for a number of reasons. Painting is a subjective, imaginative process that involves interpretation and is expressed through the eyes and hands. Photography is an objective process because expression is mediated through the mechanics of a camera. Painting in a traditional manner allows for precise manipulations and alterations of which photography and graphic software are incapable. Imaginatively “fooling the eye,” as I do, involves issues of representation that photography simply cannot address, even with imaging software and advanced dark room techniques.

Paul Paiement
October 2013

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