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Pablo Tomek Blanc de Polak

Pablo Tomek is a painter-sculptor-photographer but first and foremost a painter-painter, a rag picker for the Capitalocene age. In 2016, his exhibition ‘Travaux Publics’ [‘Public Works’] occupied the exterior arches of the Palais de Tokyo with a succession of monumental compositions inspired by industrial painting techniques. Tomek here completes this piece with a performative pictorial intervention across the windows of the Palais de Tokyo, currently under renovation. He adopts the movements of workers and pushes them to their limits in a form of painting that oscillates between abstraction and (dis)figuration.


Tomek’s studio of choice is the street: the disorder of the outside world is his playground, and he pirates the cityscape through unauthorized and illegal paintings. The drama of urban life serves as the artist’s precarious material, and enters into his studio practice through his various wanderings where chance encounters meet “outlandish details and mystical phases drawn from the city.” Tomek works through the superimposition of successive layers, incorporating mistakes, deletions, and corrections to create works that are akin to digital palimpsests. They evoke the biting and subversive language of graffiti, the heritage of abstract expressionism, and the techniques of industrial painting. Whitewash, mortar applied with trowels to wall off abandoned architectural structures, shamanic inscriptions traced out in fluorescent colours on concrete, the destruction of painting with pressure-washers: these are just some of the partial languages that Tomek manipulates to attain his perfectly impure paintings.


From 29/03/2021

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“Workers spread whitewash on windows in order to block prying gazes. To do so they use energetic sweeps of their arms and sponges that leave textured traces across the glass. These anonymous paintings dot the city: some are opaque, others semi-transparent; some are lively and aggressive while others appear to have been executed more slowly to produce softer forms that are almost calming.”

Pablo Tomek

Pablo Tomek was born in 1988 in Paris. Originating in graffiti, which he practises experimentally and illegally with his group PAL. In the studio, the artist has taken his practice further: he now examines the bonds between the heritage of graffiti and abstract expressionistic painting, while also misappropriating the techniques and aesthetics of manual work (remixing whiting, the creation of sculptures with unmade breezeblocks and mortar in shaded colours, misappropriation of the fluorescent marks made by architects, and objects abandoned in the street) so as to extract from them a new, often incomplete language, crossing over the margins between painting and urban renovation, on a background of institutionalisation and gentrification.

Pablo Tomek’s work has been presented at several solo and group shows: at the galerie du jour agnès b. in Paris (“Etat des lieux”, 2013), the Frac Nord - Pas de Calais (“Toy”, 2014), in an illegally occupied industrial wasteland (“Expressiv Tag Painting”, Pantin, 2015), at the HLM in Marseille (“Honte”, 2015), the Bateau Lavoir (“Après Coup”, 2015), and the Mini Galerie in Amsterdam (“Worker Games”, 2016). His first monography is published by Classic Paris in January 2017.