Thomias Radin is a painter and performer born in Guadeloupe. In 2018, he received his Master in Fine Arts from the University of Rennes 2 in France.
Thomias Radin’s paintings are collages of cultural references through which he investigates questions of identity and epistemology. Describing his paintings as depicting ‘internal fights’, Thomias Radin seeks to represent a double-consciousness: one formed through the intellect and one instigated through the physical experience of the Black body. Elements of urban culture, juxtaposed with elements of earlymodern European art create a map of aesthetical values that have informed the artist’s practice. Borrowing to the musical technique of sampling, fragments of these memories and references are reappropriated.
Moving bodies in his paintings, frozen into metaphorical moments, occupy the surreal backdrops of the subconscious. It is not anymore the mind that occupies the body but the opposite. The Western Cartesian experience is disturbed by animated bodies, carriers of another memory. The self comes into existence through the body and the bodily. By performing in front of his paintings, Thomias Radin pursues his aesthetical investigation of the experiences of blackness, and post-coloniality. The dance, the painted representations, the artist’s body and consciousness, the viewers’ bodies and gazes form a constellation of forces feeding the choreography of the artist’s “internal landscapes.”
Book such as Black skin et white masks by Frantz Fanon, nourish his artistic reflection.
In 2019 he present his first solo show The Myth of Inner Landscapes at Savvy Contemporary and his first short film Lazy Bird, where he explore topics like the relationship between painting, music and dance, our relationship to identity and his relationship to the Afro-Caribbean identity, psychological and cultural alienation, then the genesis of a human society and its relations to the divine.
Please find below small video footage about the artist.
SOLÈNE wants the viewer to explore and understand the world of each artist by entering their studio life, their daily exploration or even a show, a project that has marked them but more generally SOLÈNE’s vision is for the viewers to see what inspire them, their artistic process and what they wish to share and transmit.
Your paintings are a collage of elements of urban culture juxtaposed with elements of early-Modern European art. Would you say you are mixing different space & time of our history of Art to express yourself?
"Art is a game between men and women of all times” this quote from Marcel Duchamp reflects well my relation with time in my paintings. I don’t impose any limits to my relationship with time. Thanks to the sensitivity of our bodies and our brain we are capable to live in the past, present, instant T, second, ephemeral and even future. All those relationships are being studies in my paintings. Each painting is a time travel and an emotional one.
In your paintings, there is a huge feeling of moving bodies, like they were dancing or performing the capoeira, is it something you perform yourself?
Yes I am dancer as far as I can remember, I have been dancing professionally for 7 years now. I mix different style of dance from hip hop, house dance, influence of capoeira, Gwo ka ( traditional dance of Guadeloupe) and contemporary. All that in the purpose to create my own motion. The fact that we can find fragment of moving in my paintings makes totally sense its a strong language that I use to express different type of feelings. Sometimes the gesture of a moving hand, foot or back can express much more than words.
How does your interest in pre and post-colonial heritage is embodied by the presence of black bodies?
I come from Guadeloupe, so-called 'french carribean'. Born by carrying the heavy weight of slavery as heritage on my shoulder. My family is deeply catholic and as a young kid I was always triggered by the fact that I cannot see my own reflection in the biblical characters depicted in the paintings. I grew up by going to museums where only white characters are mostly represented in the paintings, except a rare one, which is one of the three wise kings coming for the birth of Jesus.
So, by painting black bodies, I re-appropriate my vision of the world. I paint these black stretches, moving, haunted bodies to express the complexity of my cultural heritage and my relationship to it. Black bodies are a carrier of another memory, the memory of the art of movement, movement who tells a story, story of a deep spirituality inherited, connected to ancient knowledge, who is still evolving and still alive. I use the language of dance movement as a repertory, an alphabet. I also have the aim that no matter what your skin colour is as a viewer, you can relate to this black body as a normal body because it's still a human body. Do Not make black skin the brand or representative of struggles.
Epistemology is a very interesting word, it is very philosophical, very complex and yet means a very fundamental universal message of our being and presence in our universe. It is the truth, the belief and its justification. How is it deeply important and meaningful for you to investigate this in your creation?
I was always fascinated by science, archeology, history in general. Since I was a teen, I was aware that the knowledge which is given to us is constantly questionable, we only have a fragment of the truth. In our western societies often the scientific and historical knowledge are politicized then often falsification is coming in, led by the need of ideological power to justify the oppression of a specific group of people. This politics on a long term and till now led to deny the philosophical, scientific, and artistic contribution of the large diversity of black people spread in the world and specifically in Africa. For example, the famous theorems of Thales and Pythagore that we learn at school are not purely greek knowledge but egyptian. Thales and Pythagore, went each of them to study 22 and 23 years in Egypt to be initiated to Kemetic Knowledge then bring back this knowledge with them.
The notion of hidden/unknown knowledge is strong in our western societies. Our knowledge of the world is never fixed, it is in constant evolution. So I think it's necessary to constantly question it, with the purpose to bring a different angle of analysis, the more we have a different perspective, the more we are able to come close to a kind of truth. With my personal research, my physical and psychological experience, through my painting, I try to inform on undocumented experience. The Inner life which is connected and influenced by our historical, scientific, and spiritual background.
How would you describe the relationship between the subject you work on and the object itself : the canvas?
My painting work is characterised by the interplay of thin layers of paint, which marry the surface of the canvas in such a way that there is confusion about the creative process. Superimposition, transparency, raw linen, so many variations that reveal a layer of readings. I approach the subject of my paintings from different angles, so the differences in treatment in the same painting correspond to this multiplicity of angles of attack and interpretation.A way of bringing an indirect narration that amplifies the mysterious character of a painting and obliges the spectator to enter into a phase of reflection.
What is contemporary art for you and what messages it tries to express and how does it translate in your work?
A work can be made 500 years ago and can still resonate, make sense and bring question in our time. So in this way it is contemporary for me.
My work is contemporary because its made now and use tools of our time, but the subject matter of my work is timeless in my opinion. At least this is the state of mind with I It is link to our human condition. When I work in the atelier I am out of time, I am in conversation with present past and futur at the same time.