'Untitled (Island)', Alicia Paz

Collage painting featuring a desert island, a beach, a bald doll holding up a woman's live head, an explosion and a man's face from a comic.

Oil, acrylic, marker and fake eyelashes on canvas, 146 x 114cm, 2005

Artist's statement

Paz’s fascination with masks, puppets and dolls is apparent throughout her work. In her recent paintings, she turns to miniature collectable items, such as cheap plastic toys, glossy magazines and comic books. Far from being naïve pawns, Paz’s company of kitsch characters appear all too knowing of their function within the paintings, to the point where it is difficult to discern whether it is the director or the cast that are in control. In 'Untitled (Island)' an oversized Barbie doll plays ventriloquist to the decapitated head of a snarling woman.

Paz’s paintings explore different levels of control, often allowing the characters to drive the internal mechanisms and generate their own narrative. While these pieces reveal the mechanics of their own creation, they also manifest a tendency to self-destruct. In the mid-nineties, Paz made a series of images in which cuddly rabbits slapped decorator’s paint across a Goya masterpiece and scribbled on Velázquez. Although no longer pitching ‘high art’ against ‘kitsch’, Paz’s iconoclastic streak continues in her new work, where the characters are often under attack within the canvas, bombarded from all sides by explosions and bombs or swallowed up by gloops of paint. In 'Untitled (Island)', the bald Barbie looses her leg to a bright pink blast as a green missile flashes in the sky above. Whilst resembling comic strip detonations, these abstract outbursts of paint also create a contrast to the figurative content of the painted collages.

(Excerpts from a text by Holly Walsh)


Alicia Paz was born in Mexico City. She studied at the University of California Berkeley USA 1985-89, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Maine (Fellowship) USA 1998 and Goldsmiths College London 1999-2000. Her exhibitions include ZAC 99 Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris France 1999, a solo show at Yvonamor Palix Gallery Paris 2000, EAST International Norwich 2004, Caution, Uneven Surfaces temporarycontemporary London 2004, The Deconstructed Landscape Art House McAllen Texas 2004 and Conversations in Painting Houldsworth Gallery London 2005. A further solo show was at Ruth Benzacar Gallery Buenos Aires 2005.