18 August 2014

The Magical World of Paul Bond

Through works that balance between New Objectivity and Surrealism Paul Bond invites the viewer to explore real-world settings amplified with fantastical elements that reveal the magic hidden in seemingly mundane situations.

The primary inspiration of the artist is derived from the natural environment, which for him is “heartbreakingly beautiful and profound”. That is why it plays a primary role even in interiors like The Waterhouse (2012), which, according to the artist, presents the contrast “between the living sea that moves like breath, inhaling and exhaling itself into the world, with the illusory permanence of our homes and lives”. The setting remains the same, while the sea constantly changes and replenishes itself making this surrealistic combination of elements an exaltation of the beauty in nature.

Following the literary tradition of Magical Realists such as Gabriel García Márquez, Paul Bond gives new and profound meanings to otherwise simply beautiful pictures by applying symbolic meaning to recurring objects in his works. Apart from the water element the black umbrella is one such object appearing in works such as The Arrival (2010), The Luminous Pearl of Her Appointed Plenitude and The Girl Who Married a Cloud (2013). The umbrella shelters the women in the paintings, who stand alone and unprotected in rather precarious situations, and also signifies their dignity and inner strength.

The woman in The Releasing of Sorrows (2011) lifts her umbrella and suddenly black birds fly away. The birds in their black colour symbolise her sadness and concerns, which, as Paul Bond remarks, “cast no shadow as they are illusory in nature to the outside world, though very real to her”. It is no mere coincidence that the artist has placed this act on a beach, in front of the sea, which has cleansing properties; it is the ideal setting for the woman to release the troubles of the past and make a fresh start.

Therefore, the magically realistic works of Paul Bond are exceptional not only for their presentation of a peculiar world and flawless execution, but also because through them the artist aims to help the viewers take steps towards happiness. 

Annita Apostolaki is an art professional with an MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art and a BA in Archaeology & History of Art. Annita is now Curatorial Assistant at the Athens Biennale and a contributing author for USEUM.