Last night marked the debut of French artist Nicolas Pol’s first ever US exhibition, entitled The Martus Maw, at the old meat market on Essex street in New York and quite the debut it was, with guests like designer Jean Paul Gaultier (at right), French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld (at right), and Mickey Boardman and Kim Hastreiter from Paper Magazine showing up. It should also be noted that Carine showed up in a Lady Gaga-inspired pantless and black lace number that was disturbingly flattering for a 55-year-old woman. There’s no doubt it helps to have Valdimir Reston Roitfeld (Carine Roitfeld’s son) backing the exhibition and having some of the heaviest hitters in the fashion and art industries come through for support. The show was also made possible by West Coast skate company RVCA, which has been recently delving into the fashion and art scenes with collaborations like model Erin Wasson’s fashion line to shows like this one and an upcoming show for Phil Frost and Barry McGee at Prism Gallery in LA. Word on the street is that RVCA’s biggest investor of the moment is a young 20-something by the name of Stav, whose parents are big timers in the art world.
Flashy and non-flashy guests alike arrived clad in black (yes . . . the stereotypes are true) amidst wafts of incense in a dimly lit large warehouse with lighting solely focused to outline Pol’s giant paintings. The effect was that the colorful, large-scale paintings looked spell binding like giant luminary figures in the darkness.
In the press booklet — which it should be noted was taken from an interview with famed fashion writer Judith Benahmou-Huet (cheers to connections) — Pol mentions Warhol as an influence, which was certainly discernible, but it was clearly Basquiat who drove his inspiration. The masculine paintings were clearly derivative, but they were also crowd pleasers and had everyone ooing and ahhing. The paintings certainly made a statement and a violent and dark one at that, with paintings like Lupus Gutus, which features a wolf with a severed and bleeding head or Wooden Spell, a black and white painting on wood with voo-doo like hearts and animal figures. You got the feeling that Pol painted with as much passion and violence as his own subjects evoke, with giant sweeping, streaming brushstrokes splattered across the canvas in paintings like Crying. And indeed, Pol cites his childhood in Africa (and giant rotting elephants) as the source for his “fascination with the morbid.” Despite the déjà vu feeling in Pol’s work, his influences seem to haunt his works in a dark and rather appropriate sort of way and judging from the amount of paintings with red dot “sold stickers,” it’s just the kind of enveloping juxtaposition of darkness and light that people are in the market for these days.
-Written by The Function Key‘s NYC correspondent Paige Reddinger
All photos by Nick D.