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8 pieces by Olivier Toma
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Olivier Toma Paintings
A need to paintThere are some journeys through life that do not seem to be heading towards art and the solitary work of the studio. These are lives that are anchored in reality, that step inevitably up the ladder and along a carefully thought out route with no thought of possible deviations. Such was Olivier Toma’s path, as he moved steadily through well-oiled gears until one day the tension snapped and he was left, suddenly, with just one means of expression, painting. A direct physical approach; a one to one with the material became the only way of transposing his emotions and communicating effective reality. Out of this early, frenzied work came the intellectual arguments and the discourse. From being a necessity, his painting turned more experimental and became linked to an imagined ideal. An area of pure creativity in which he explored all possibilities and invented, in a sort of audacious pictorial genesis, all sorts of techniques which he appropriated simply to expound his idea. To this unceasing search, which led him down many unexplored avenues, there remained the sign, calligraphy, the considered gesture, contained energy, the verb. An immutable figure around which he developed a dynamic and instinctive body of work. The object of painting is first, the impenetrability of the world; painting is the way to pierce its mystery, the place where the canvas becomes a laboratory. The world needs to be found and then concentrated into its most primitive and original forms. Infinite matter transmuted by experience, fate, fortuitous meetings and the slow working of unexpected textures. The painter becomes an alchemist and the studio is transformed into a laboratory where each experiment is rigorously recorded. Treating with disdain classical approaches Olivier Toma attempts to create a universe that is his own, taking from the world around him that which he feels he can graft onto his composition of materials and using the most unlikely materials in order to achieve the desired result. First and foremost nature provides an inexhaustible field of inspiration. A seductive prodigality who’s varied aspects the artist explores. From his travels he returns with mineral curiosities such as the jars of green sand that he used for luminous granular surfaces. The earth offers him a wide chromatic palette, natural pigments whose warm tones he loves. Fascinated by the ability of certain plants to produce dyes, he expresses the colour contained in the petals and body of the plant into strange concoctions making inks and the basis of more or less strong shades of colour. From flowers to spices and via traditional foods, such as chocolate or egg white, all are used as media, subjects for consideration, experiments and even experimentation. With an alternative use of products and chemical molecules that attract and repel, the canvas is covered in a sedimentary layer, partly in harmony and partly in conflict. This dynamic is essential, as though it were necessary to rediscover the world’s first momentum, its primitive impetus and even that which preceded representation. Paint is spread like strange chaos; a sort of unstable energy, full of mobility and movement, of flux and transformation. In the heart of this space, elements link up with each other, talk to each other and bring into being a painting built on extreme tension. Worked in a complex way, this painting seems to carry the beginnings of materials in gestation. Within this, then occurs an unceasing debate between the space to be painted, its genesis containing fragments of the universe and the omnipresence of the sign; knowing that chaos is always there as a receptacle for the figure.Two forces opposing each other; chaos and order; silence and the verb; the sensual and the sacred. Calligraphic signs mean balance, harmony; the basics of the canvas are built around these omnipresent fragments of writing. For Olivier Toma the symbolic role of the sign is determinant and its carefully produced aestheticism seems like a breath, a human trait placed on the surface of the world. This most ordered representation tempers chaotic creation. Constellations, tangled masses and an instinctive dynamic oppose a structured outlook. Concentrating all humankind’s aspirations within itself the sign is witness to an unalterable desire to name, elucidate and give meaning to the surrounding environment. Of diverse inspirations calligraphy also marks a return to the scriptural, the love of handwriting and its marvellous and enigmatic scope. The gestural is an integral part of the ceremonial, its extent going well beyond the printed space. There too, the choice of pigments, the transparence, the luminosity and the intensity of the colours are the result of successful research. Olivier Toma’s work is blessed with complete independence. His developments are completely spontaneous and never the result of intentions that might upset the raw material of his imagination and his research work. His artistic expression remains utterly free and therefore very distinctive. Filled with life’s momentum; dynamic and rhythmic, his painting is essentially sensual. Sensual in its appreciation of time, an important factor in the act of painting which then can become the painting’s subject. Time inherent in technique that he needs to recover ceaselessly.Sensual in his choice of texture.Sensual in rhythm, imparting a beating heart on the surface of the material.Sensuality and sacredness found in the ambiguity of a fragile equilibrium.It calls to the viewer and poses questions about its meaning and the secret of its matter with such intensity, with such presence and a real sense of painting renewed.
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