Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté, Luxe, calme et volupté. (There, all is order and beauty, Luxury, peace, and pleasure.)
– Charles Baudelaire, “L’Invitation au voyage” from the volume Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil)
Underground is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Joseph Tecson. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. This latest series, initiated over a year ago and finalised during the pandemic lockdown, express a desire for both physical and emotional escape. Exploring new subjects created in large formats, many of these paintings connote ideas about human excess and luxury, isolationism and domination of nature.
The title of the exhibition, Luxe, calme et volupté, derives from a pivotal painting by Henri Matisse, who was inspired by Baudelaire’s poem. Ironically, Matisse’s vibrant painting about beauty, calm and luxury is considered the starting point of the Fauves (‘wild beasts’), an idea which Tecson has repurposed as a theme for his new works. Tecson was also recently inspired by the mysteriously decorative and psychedelic works of anarchist painter Felix Vallotton and the rest of Les Nabis group of artists.
This new series of paintings demonstrates Joseph Tecson’s continuation of his Interiors series while introducing new subjects and juxtapositions of figurative and abstract forms. Images of beach chairs and luxury speed boats cruising are mixed with foreign refugees and exotic animals, creating an uneasy tension between blissful escapism and economic/ecological collapse. The viewer is also simultaneously seduced by Tecson’s renegade painterly technique and luscious use of colour and unsettled by the physiological darkness emanating from the paintings.
About the artist
Joseph Tecson (born 1985) lives and works in Quezon City, Philippines.
He has held numerous solo exhibitions in Manila and abroad including Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, and Switzerland where he completed an art residency program.