Aptly titled Venice, Venice, Paris-based artist Paul P.’s current offering at Marc Selwyn is something of a tribute — feeling as if part travel diary and part reverie — to the two seaside locales by the same name in Italy and California. Mr. P., whose name seems an almost calculated echo of Monsieur G. (the moniker by which Charles Baudelaire referred to Constantin Guys, the artist around whom Baudelaire constructed his idea of the late–19th century “painter of Modern Life”), packs a lot of the feel of the 19th century into the 32 modestly scaled works on view, rendered on paper and canvas in oil, watercolor, pastel, pencil, crayon, dry point and chine collé. Mr. P.’s images, which range from lamp-lit, fog-shrouded canals and palm-lined sidewalks, to bridges in silhouette and surf-’n’-sand sunsets, to supple young bathers and sanguine reclining nudes, bear the stylistic traits of Whistler, Sargent, Monet and Eakins, and the attitudinal flavorings of Whitman, Baudelaire and Proust. But just as the direct impressions of Impressionism were in fact filtered through both contributing factors and visual influences — from the illumination of night via the gas lamp, to the rise of mass-printing technologies and the graphic aesthetics they both yielded and favored, to the emergence of a postindustrial urban reality — Mr. P.’s works are as well products of an era informed by photography and modern cinematography, by psychedelic experience and its simulation in popular media, by the sexual revolution, by the proliferation of print pornography, and by flicks like William Higgins’ The Boys of Venice and the films of Derek Jarman or Kenneth Anger. Mr. P. is a proud flâneur whose stylistics offer a tip of the hat to the tradition from which he emerges, and which he continues. At Marc Selwyn Fine Art, 6222 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 101, L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; through January 29. (323) 933-9911 or www.marcselwynfineart.com.
Paul P., Untitled (2007)