Paul Toupet is a sculptor with a strong identity, characterized by his systematic appropriation of the mask and his experience of tattooing; the artist exhibits contemplative and ecstatic children, always helmeted and clothed, bearing drawn marks of life on their skin. His works have a clear connection with the primitive arts and religious Baroque.
His work is in constant evolution, and with each HEY! modern art & pop culture exhibition, Paul Toupet approaches different materials at different periods: from ash to white light to color. He’s preparing the next one, but won’t say anything about it for now…
Artworks linked to primitive arts, autofiction and mysticism
” I make what I can’t have “
From childhood, peaceful and wise, Paul had the desire to make what he loved and couldn’t have for himself, like Rascar Capac’s mummy from Hergé’s 7 Crystal Balls. He told himself stories, creating dolls out of rags and ashes to approximate the works of primitive art in his parents’ collection.
At the age of 16, a visit to the studio of sculptor Georges Jeanclos impressed him and inspired his desire to live in a studio full of artworks.
His taste for places of religious worship, where tranquility meets theatrical, transcendent ambience, is evident in all his creations.
His first installation was a nativity scene in which he represented himself as a donkey. But it’s with the image of the rabbit and the exploration of this animal’s morphology that he feels most at ease. The rabbit is his childhood totem.
His sculptures are made on the human scale, using a variety of materials: wax, plaster, rope, wood, leather, fabric, varnish, salvaged objects and acrylic paint. Wax and ashes characterized the first part of his artistic life.
From his installation "La Crèche" to his work "Gisant", Paul Toupet moves from his Ash period to his White period.
In 2013, he took part in the HEY! modern art and pop culture Part 2 exhibition at La Halle Saint Pierre museum in Paris, curated by HEY! founder Anne Richard. On this occasion, the artist decided to sacrifice his “performer” persona: he staged a representation of himself lying down, dressed as the performer he was.
With this sacrifice, he puts his artistic life in order with calm control and buries the first period of his artistic life: a way of leaving the burrow? and moving towards the light through rebirth or reincarnation.
Next, he inaugurates his White period with work on shades of white.
Later, he reintroduces drawing on his masks in the spirit of Delft ceramics, and begins his Blue period. The iconography used is an extended retranscription of the tattoos worn by his friends, if not his own.
An immense urge to wonder, that is what childhood is all about”.
Victor Hugo [The Art of Being a Grandfather]
In 2021, as he prepares two concomitant HEY! exhibitions, “Croyance.s – Au cœur de l’invisible, des sculptures pour l’âme” at the Carmel de Pamiers and “Spirit Translation” at the Halle Saint Pierre, he invests color with force and begins his current period. With color, Paul Toupet’s work is illuminated by religious Neapolitan Baroque. The wise children remain enigmatic beneath their reinvented masks. They dance gently. Their fixed gaze is ever more intensely astonished.
In 2020, the international magazine Beautiful Bizarre awarded him the prize for “best sculptor of the year”, and in 2022 the prestigious Taylor Foundation selected him for a Prize. The Taylor Prize enabled him to explore the bronze printing process. For this project, he recreated a work entirely designed for bronze, with tattoos in relief. The print consecrates his work and gives it new dimensions.
Paul Toupet has been supported by HEY! modern art and pop culture for over 10 years. Artistes Actuels is pleased to announce – through the presentation of works by artist Paul toupet – the partnership with HEY!
For more information www.heyheyhey.fr