Paul Romano: Building on the ruins of a previous incarnation
Editions Ltd, Friday 29 July 2016. – Saturday 27 August 2016
Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith
An oddly refreshing drop in international waters. Local artist Paul Romano works out of 104 Duke Street and usually exhibits here in Liverpool, so if you’re boiling over from all the international wonders of Liverpool Biennial and want to remind yourself that Liverpool keeps going between the bi-annual festivals, Editions is the right place to do it.
Being local doesn’t detract at all from his ability to swing a paintbrush. His studio, 104 Duke Street might sit quietly behind a fairly uninspiring newsagents, but the artists who spend their days in the unassuming studios are far from quiet: Cherie Grist, one of the studio founders, was nominated for the John Moores Painting Prize in 2010; Colette Lilley, another studio founder, became the joint founder of Liverpool Artist Network in 2015; Jessica Arrowsmith Stanley has a client list that includes Waterstones and Red Bull.
That list doesn’t even reach Paul Romano, whose work has ended up in private collections across the globe, from New York to the Far East. His work, now on display at Editions is his second exhibition at the gallery, with his last show almost selling out on opening night. There’s a reason his work gets snapped up, and it’s not theory, or critical, it’s just enticing. In his own words, “every time I come back to them I see something different.” His work doesn’t have intentions in a strict sense, nor does it try to depict anything.
His main inspirations are graffiti and things that “just spill out of my head”, so it you look at them as see something specific then you’re could very well be right, but its likely a happy accident. My first reaction was that faces kept appearing, in the same way they do as you’re falling asleep. Faces jumping out of the shadows, but in this case a much happier version (in one picture, I’m sure Elvis is glaring out, but I was assured he isn’t).
Romano simply sees things. He suspects that one work, with a particularly faint face came from something sitting in the back of his mind having been to see the Francis Bacon exhibition at Tate Liverpool. And there was a definite air of Francis Bacon about that work.
An artist who focuses on enjoying his work, and crossing his fingers that others do too. He surprises everyone who turns around to find something new, each and every time they see a painting. I could easily describe the work as geometric but free flowing, hap-hazard but planned, colourful but soft, but the work’s real strength is in how it draws you in, and continues to hold your interest.