With Pasqua, the taste for the monumental goes hand in hand with an attraction towards what is most vulnerable – bodies and faces, sometimes with stigmatising differences that the artist adopts and magnifies through his painting: for example, portraits of transsexuals, people with Downs syndrome, or people who are blind.
Handicaps, differences, obscenity or the sacred: each canvas is the fruit of a struggle, a tension between what can be shown and "tolerated", and what is socially repressed or concealed.
In a recent piece he wrapped a Ferrari F430 in human coloured sking and tattooed it. Not all cool things can be combined to create something better. For example, (barring certain countries) French Bulldogs and adventurous cooking. But when Philippe Pasqua combined Italian sports cars and high quality tattoo design something a little special is created.
Compression, accumulation, destruction…The car becoming sculpture is part of the history of modern art. Not to mention its counterpart: the modern and radical transformation of bodies into machines.
But never, perhaps, has the metamorphosis of a car been pushed so far. Entirely covered in skin and tattooed, a legendary racing car is perpetually frozen in the instant of an improbable take-off.
It is a relief-tableau and a wall sculpture at the same time. It is a total installation that transforms the machine into a desirable body. It is an allegory that combines speed and immobility, the mechanical and the organic, extreme danger and pure sensuality.
Pasqua's painting strikes the visitor like an almost physical impact, but also like a vision that is at the same time explosive and incisive. The monumental format of the artist's canvases is dictated by the breadth of his gestures — a dance where brutality and finesse, trance and lucidity alternate.
He begins by painting the sort of fetishes or enigmatic silhouettes that evoke voodoo. Then, gradually, his gaze turns to those who are standing around him. He interferes with the twists and turns of people's intimate depths, going right into the innermost areas of their being.
As a counterpoint to this physical work, there are his grand drawings. The face or the body becomes a halo, mist, smoke, stroke, vibration. It is no longer so much a case of flesh as of sketched contours and delicate textures.
There are also the "palimpsests" – works on paper mixing silk-painting techniques, printing and painting, where the painter goes back over his own work and adds patches of colour to them or redesigns them.
Another major aspect of Pasqua's work lies in his series of "vanities". The technique employed evokes that of the silver- and goldsmiths of the Middle Ages working on a reliquary, and also some kind of shamanic ritual. He covers human skulls with gold or silver leaf. Sometimes, he covers them in skins and then tattoos them. Then there is the delicate stage where the skulls are decorated with preserved butterflies, with their outstretched wings and their iridescent colours: the light is refracted on their coloured, powdery surface, or falls into the deep shadows in the eye sockets. He also sometimes pours liquid paint in a thick stream that covers everything and submerges it.
For several years, the artist has also been going to Carrara frequently, where he sculpts skulls weighing several tons that are like massive stars radiating telluric energy. At the foundry, he produces large bronze casts that are then plunged into baths of chrome. The skulls that emerge — human or animal, like that of the hippopotamus — become like mirrors: sometimes you only see their blinding reflection, sometimes they disappear, so that what they are reflecting emerges. And on approaching them, inevitably it is our own image that we see.
On this website devoted to him, you can discover all the facets of the work of this "intangible" and inexhaustible artist