An Ailment You Enjoy: A Conversation with Paco Pomet

September 13, 2018

The Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo described Suadade as “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy”, though it’s considered a word or feeling that is untranslatable. Paco Pomet is a painter, and I think he paints poetry. Resonate is too mild a word to describe the drama and color contained in each canvas, as it reels you in. There is no glancing at a Paco Pomet canvas. I spoke to the artist by email about his show, Melancholia, at Richard Heller’s Santa Monica gallery,  which runs through October 20, 2018.

Gwynned Vitello: The press release for your show shows the image of a painting called Dying Sun, and the show is called Melancholia. But this isn’t a new Paco Pomet, is it?
Paco Pomet: This is not a new Paco Pomet, but a melancholic one, indeed! I have tried to convey that feeling, tinged with hurt before the powerful unfolding of nature, which bring a consciousness of lightness, smallness and finitude of one’s self existence. In most works presented in this show, the landscape reveals itself as a sinister scenario where changes of light, unexpected irruptions or bizarre situations are imbued in threatening intentions, in most cases. Some other works, however, provoke a more pleasant sentiment.

I tried to enhance the pictorial resources that I have recently developed in my works, especially those related to shifting colors, glowing lights and ill-lie tones. These modes fit perfectly in that search for a dramatic effect that these series ask for.

Ambush Oil and acrylic on canvas. 60 x 70 cm. 2018

Do you use certain colors to evoke mood? Have you always favored particular shades, or has this evolved, and maybe on display in this new show?
The use of certain colors as a semantic, symbolic or even emotional vehicle is like a chimera. Beyond certain aesthetic conventions, it is very difficult to tame and adapt it to very specific expressive pretension. I have never granted color such an accurate evocative capacity. I do believe that color can help to lead the gaze, in a very sensual way, to the place that I am interested for the viewer to explore. But then there are other propertied, the particularities that make the work finer and more complex: associations, juxtapositions, inclusions, irruptions of elements that disarm the initial image and create a new one, stranger, unexpected or disconcerting. What I like the most about this gradual and increasingly clear immersion in color is the visual enthusiasm that it provokes, even when these paintings embody what are, in most cases, emotionally disturbing images.

Much of your work is characterized by black and white renderings shot with intense, dramatic color, akin to sunrise and sunset. Do find that a tension filled moment, like what is behind a curtain rising or closing?
That is a good way to describe the tension inherent in many of the works in this exhibition. That irruption of color inevitably evokes a tension which characterizes a blow of emotional distress of the spirit before certain manifestations of nature that can be hurtful and cruel in spite of beauty and sensuality. It is in that duality hidden in nature which I delve into. That terrible and threatening reversal o the most beautiful moment of the day ad night: sunsets,, sunrises, full moon … I have always liked the landscape It has seduced and affected me. I have always been aware of the insistent call of the outside, of open spaces, the open air. Not in vain, I paint mostly with natural light and the changing light of day is something that I m aware of at all times. The preference for the morning or afternoon is coupled with the need for different activities and different predispositions of mind.

II Oil based pencil and pastel on paper. 42 x 59 cm. 2018

You’ve compared Meloncholia to the German Romantics concept of the Sublime and the Portuguese sense of Suadade, which has been described as “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.” Do any of these terms aptly fit the new body of work?
Absolutely. Beauty, joy, happiness are not harmless. They have, as a beautiful song Tom Waits says, “a little drop of poison.” The price you have to pay to experience the best of this world is to die a little faster. The flame that burns with more intensity lasts less, but it is much more beautiful. The spectacular nature of the world implies the abyss, and this is very much German Romantic. But the blow of pain that the contemplation of the fleeting has, the awareness of the finitude of everything w love, is something that our Portuguese neighbors have described very well (I remind you that I live in Spain.)There is a sweetness in their language and music I would like to emulate. Most of the paintings presented in this exhibition try. Hopefully, it has been achieved so spectators “feel” it.  

Paco Pomet's Melancholia will be on view through October 20, 2018