Tirage couleur monté sur aluminium et sous diasec. Encadrement. Signé, titré et numéroté 2/3 sur plaque de cuivre au dos de l’encadrement. Dimensions: 120 x 180 cm (avec encadrement).


With the title ‘Exotica’ Paolo Topy refers to the eponymous style of music named after an album by Martin Denny in 1957. In the US at the end of World War II, together with Les Baxter, Denny took inspiration from Hawaiian, Caribbean and Polynesian rhythms and combined them with jazz melodies. This exotic music that Paolo Topy recalls, invites us on a journey; a journey made possible by a simple leaf-patterned curtain, purchased in the Barbès district of Paris. This foliage is a thinly disguised reference to Matisse’s cut-outs and his ‘Jazz’ collection. On a more simple level, Topy’s ‘Exotica’ with its numerous references, conjures the exoticism of a bazaar—a little cheap, but colourful— where you can be transported to a far off and vibrant land, daydreaming, without ever travelling physically and at very low cost, thanks to the popularisation of taste and our consumer society. Here, this exoticism is accompanied by the notion of the ‘noble savage’. A silhouette stands out through the curtain; its ‘blackness’ has of course been invented by the western world, justified for too long by politics and the excesses of colonialism. It is deliberately out of focus and shrouded in mystery. Is it real or simply an illusion created by the back-lighting? This uncertainty produces an immediate shift in the picture. This is also the ‘blackness’ of white jazz musicians like Martin Denny, or of European and American painters and sculptors who slip behind the curtain, turning their backs on racial stereotypes and established aesthetic ideals. Whatever their means of expression, they too have been ‘noble savages’ that have each in their own particular way helped to break down prejudices and contributed to the creation of a different relationship with others, with art and how we think about it. Paolo Topy invites us to embrace our own ‘blackness’ and to become ‘noble savages’ ourselves, to slip behind the curtain.