15 rue des Arquebusiers, 75003
May 3 - June 2

Galerie Polaris is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by British artist Simon Willems. Killing Me Softly brings together variously scaled works, featuring mountain hikers and groups engaged in team building activities. Sinking into weathered colour fields and hermit landscapes taken from art history, Willems presents the image of corporate fun, as if suspended in a Narnian deep freeze. Oblivious to the observer whilst fading from view, it is not clear whether the workers in these paintings are emerging or evaporating from where they find themselves. Recalling the slow vision of Whistler’s Nocturnes, Willems compresses the figure-ground to the point of reversal ; expos ing the picture plane as  a fabrication of temporal effects, in which porous and layered surfaces appear like decaying tapestries ; striated paint, scraped through and sanded down to reveal the support. Dislocated and remote, activity here appears Sisyphean and slight; echoing the monastic solitude of the backdrops that Willems draws upon.

This sense of distance is also evident in the enigmatic painting, ‘You Do Not Want to Believe’, featuring a lone packer cropped off at the neck. Reworking Caspar David Friedrich’s Romanticist cliché Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), the absent headspace renders the remaining body a mechanical shell – deprived of any thought. Inspired in its title from the 1973 Roberta Flack song and album by the same name, Killing Me Softly is reconfigured as a sharp critique; satirising the image of leisure within a Post-Fordist economy of ‘work’ that doesn’t appear to be work.

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