Dawn marks the start of a new direction for the London-based Italian pop artist, Thion. Best-known for his candy-colored acrylics of inflatable men and women in states of ecstasy, this new series of black ink drawings and prints displays an unprecedented elegance and simplicity. With an eye for the body’s erogenous zones worthy of Tom of Finland, but with none of Tom’s overbearingness, Thion articulates the human form, its curves and creases, as never before. Likewise, leaves and trees, rocks and flowers, mountains, volcanoes—everything acquires a breathtaking new svelteness and clarity. His theme is pastoral; the feeling, classical. An occasional disc of color floats into view—but only to spotlight the Japanese character inside. Whereas, a decade ago, Thion made paintings with original Haiku poems stenciled onto the canvas, here the composition, the line itself is the Haiku: spare, light, ethereal, never for a moment forgetting the sexual body and its rootedness in nature, but now in all earnestness gesturing toward something like The Soul.
It began a few years ago with, of all things, a new iPad. Thion discovered that the pleasure of drawing and erasing with a stylus on the magical liquid surface led naturally to a new, more balletic drawing technique, as well as new subject matter and a new rapprochement between technology and art-making. As always, ideas for drawings may start with random photos taken by mobile phone while at home watching telly or out and about. A composition may come from just seeing someone standing in a doorway. But whether he chooses to draw in the traditional way directly on paper (as with the four large pieces on display), whether he takes screen shots of drawings made on the tablet (as with the smaller limited edition prints also on display), or wheather he makes animation videos tracing the progress of compositions from start to finish (one such video will be projected onto the center wall of the exhibition), Thion’s practice is a continuous integrated feedback loop, embracing the new, unearthing the timeless.
There is no “digital art,” only art in a digital era. Thion’s new work, summed up in the word “Dawn,” is proof that beauty is not dead, that technology can make us more human, not less.
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