September 11 – November 29, 2020

CAC de Malaga - Spain

The Dark Side



The Dark Side is Philippe Pasqua’s first solo exhibition in Spain, a 30-year survey of the artist’s career curated by Fernando Francés. The show features more than thirty works—large-format paintings and two sculptures—made between 1990 and the present day. Pasqua’s art is characterised by his representation of portraits, faces and nudes using disabled children, transgender individuals, prostitutes and members of his own family as models. The artist reflects on the coexistence of beauty and ugliness, questioning the moral values of our time. Philippe Pasqua has made a name for himself as one of the greatest artists on the international art scene.


“What I look for in art is, above all, a gesture. The feel of paint is phenomenal, it’s stronger than any drug! Only painting has the power to supply these kinds of emotions and sensations,” French artist Philippe Pasqua explains. Pasqua’s vision of the world and people is expressed in his invariably massive works, which impress and invite viewers to reflect on human nature.

Philippe Pasqua moves from drawing to painting, a medium in which he has developed a unique figurative style close to expressionism, and from collage to sculpture with consummate skill. In his paintings he occasionally leaves the bare canvas exposed, applying a palette of beige, red and blue tones with visible streaks, strokes, marks, splatters or globs of oil paint.

The intense facial expressions and intimate physical acts of his characters denote the influence of artists like Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Tim Burton.

His creative process begins by taking photographs of his subjects, attempting to capture a certain look, gesture or pose; he then paints them from those photos, trying to convey what makes them special or is not apparent at first glance.

The Dark Side features 31 large-format paintings, including several new pieces made especially for this show, and two sculptures. The selected works span his entire artistic career, from 1990 to the present, and document his exploration of the human condition and the nature of society.

The fragility of madness and the difference of disability are themes that repeatedly surface his work. His singular style asserts itself in a fantastic

personal universe through paintings and sculptures of great intensity and enormity that question the beauty of ugliness and convey anguish as a reaction to violence, incomprehension and the destruction of nature.

Pasqua’s earliest works contain mysterious silhouettes reminiscent of voodoo and primitive art. Sans titre (1991) features a collage-like assortment of different types of classical sculptures, voodoo dolls, an old man and masks, and in Sans titre (1990) we see a human figure bearing signs of violence against a black background.

Today Pasqua paints portraits, naked bodies and faces that never deviate from reality, with hardly any additional objects, as in his works Arnaud (2007) and Anne (2006). His paintings go beyond mere physical or superficial depiction, plumbing the emotional depths of the individual.

His sitters are marginalised individuals (transgender people or prostitutes), disabled persons (blind or Down’s syndrome) or members of his inner circle (friends and relatives, including his son Orso) whom he turns into icons, reflecting the universal. He paints some of them, like Arnaud, Laura, Anne and Philippe, time after time.

Pasqua’s compositions are powerful and visceral, depicting his subjects from strange and often unflattering angles. The surfaces of his paintings are thick due to the accumulated layers of paint and detailed views of his models, as illustrated by Caphi (2006), depicting a man in women’s clothing, and Nu (2002), featuring what seem to be three naked female bodies joined together.

Skulls are recurring elements in both his paintings and sculptures. In the painting titled Orso (2020), we see Pasqua’s son holding a skull, and the sculpture Sans titre (2020) shows a vulture spreading its wings atop a mound of golden skulls. In these works the artist explores the idea of the vanitas, which meditates on the transience of life and the certainty of death, seeking the essence of the human being.

As a sculptor he has also addressed other themes, such as the depletion of the earth and the disappearance of species, or the quasi-religious concept of the sacred in La Cène (2017), where clown-headed monkeys sitting at a table evoke Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, drawing inspiration from the theories of Darwin and contemporary scientists.

The artist invites spectators to reflect on the coexistence of beauty and ugliness, questioning the moral values of our time through his oversize paintings.

Philippe Pasqua (Grasse, France, 1965), a self-taught painter and sculptor, has become one of the most prominent names on the

international art scene. Important solo exhibitions include Versus, The Storage, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, France (2018); Momento Mori, Zemack Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (2017); Crâne, ArtCurial, Paris, France (2010); Métamorphoses, Galerie RX, Paris, France (2004); Trauma, Galerie Hengevoss Dürkop-Jensen, Hamburg, Germany (2001); and Espace Confluence, Paris, France (1990). His works can be seen in cities around the world, from New York, Moscow and Hong Kong to Mexico City, London and Hamburg.

Sara Guerra
Coordinator of communication
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952 20 85 00