39 x 39 in
oil on canvas
Electric Shock by Philippe Huart
Painter Philippe Huart creates glossy images of intoxication and consumerism, aiming to show the effects of marketing and advertising on the human psyche. Gel capsules, blooming flowers, Coca-Cola, wrapped candy, Mickey Mouse, and handguns recur as motifs. The objects spread to the edges of each canvas in compositions that frequently lack a focal point, save for a few words subtly printed at their centers. In Pushin’ Too Hard(2011), the canvas is broken into two horizontal sections: above is a rainbow-colored swath of candy—wrapped peppermints, Tootsie Pops, and gumballs; below a handgun lies on its side, its chamber open and exposed. Dividing the two is the provocative command “push.” Such arrangements suggest there is sweetness in violence and vice versa, while the directive to push references both the trigger of the gun and the temptation of the saccharine treats.
Working on a variety of perceptual levels, Philippe Huart lets one visit his intimate diary entries or take a tour of his fantasies. His canvases suggest several different readings – aesthetic, message-laden, lyrical, or realistic in a fictional take on the everyday – so as to account for both the uniformity and the disorder of the visual information that is bombarding us.
Whether he is depicting a gun, bonbons, flowers, or pharmaceutical tablets, Huart’s concern is not to reveal, through his iconography, what grounds the established metaphorical relations between objects, and that just makes them more fascinating. The painter favors reflective surfaces on which the surrounding spectacle, out of frame, comes to fit like a film on the screen.
Starting with Pop Art-related imagery, he creates a universe populated with gleaming capsules, tired flowers, and tangy candy treats. His sumptuous sweets are piled up, packed in, juxtaposed, enlarged, and fragmented. From the initial photographic document he removes those anecdotal features that might risk diverting one’s attention from the main subject matter of the composition. It is the treatment of the image, with all the attendant ambiguities of representation, that interests him.
His work clings to the high-definition zones of images. But his canvases have little to do with their appearance or the objects being represented. They constitute, instead, a set of motivations and propositions.