Intersecting his Spanish heritage of Surrealist, dreamlike landscapes with the biting grit of Dada’s pointed parody, Paco Pomet’s distinctive paintings and fierce wit unearth a nostalgic satire rich with the missteps of human history.
Pomet grew up between the city of Grenada, where he was born in 1971, and a small village, Cordoba – his father’s hometown. As he himself explains, his paintings hold a distinctively Iberian sensibility: the cynicism in his work a historical residue of a totalitatian Franco regime that meant fatalism was “an ingredient almost omnipresent in our culture”. In post-Franco Spain, Pomet’s traditional art education at the University of Granada focused on landscapes, portraits and still life. While he found this approach limiting, it edified his need to find ways to resist through artistic expression, thus informing the unique juxtapositions of his work: hyperreal monochrome figures and landscapes punctuated by piercing colour, cartoons, lightsabers, elongated limbs and foreboding masses of pink bubblegum. Taking inspiration from vintage photographs along with his own horizon of popular culture references, Pomet’s paintings honour and ridicule the absurd world around him in both form and content.
In 2015, Pomet exhibited at Banksy’s controversial project, Dismaland, a dilapidated theme park in Weston-super-Mare with moody attendants and broken down rides. The show attracted unprecedented media attention as well as more visitors than the Tate and V&A’s biggest shows from the same year, due to its famed yet elusive curator and eccentric, post-modern format of ironic, experiential pastiche. Internacional, one of very few Pomet works that use a contemporary colour photograph as their source, was included in the exhibition. The painting depicts Chadian soldiers in the desert, driving into battle with weapons flailing. At the front of the truck, screaming among the seemingly jovial men, is an intruder: the Cookie Monster. Imposing this comic, fictional icon of children’s television with the archetypal media image of the conflict between Chad and Libya during the 1980s somewhat crudely nicknamed ‘The Toyota War’, provokes a dark and unsettling humour that questions the sensationalism of modern entertainment, while forcing us to examine our own reflex to an image combining war with a symbol of jovial innocence.
Pomet’s oeuvre has a bleak sense of nostalgia. His interest in the birth of photography and cinema during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is due, as he explains, to an appealing, naïve enthusiasm for invention in a time “before mercantilism and advertising flooded everything”. Collecting photographs from his own family archives, from flea markets and also occasionally taking his own, the charming rural settings and staged portraits Pomet selects speak to an age when photography was an event rather than a habit. In paintings like The Visit and Little Dusk, Pomet uses location pins, emojis and low battery icons as ironic interventions of the present day. However, in an age of constant iOS updates, contemporary technology comes with its own immediate nostalgic obsolescence; a ferocious rate of development pushing the out-of-date ever closer to the present. This alignment of new and old is at the heart of Pomet’s work: a surface layer of change and contrast thinly veiling a deeper, repetitious consistency, that – all too often – the world is reluctant to face.