by Maria Sole Ferrero with Ilaria Salerno
MONACO. Philippe Pastor was born in 1961 in Monaco. He works between Monaco and Spain, paying to his micro state the deep commitment to environment that characterizes the Principality and the Prince Albert II Foundation that is working for the protection of the Oceans, the nature, the Poles.Philippe’s paternal grandfather, Gildo Pastor, developed most of the residential buildings along Monaco’s coastline. His father, Victor Pastor, was a billionaire real estate developer.
Following his father’s death with a net wealth of $5.4 billion, Bloomberg considers each of his four children to be billionaires. While two of his brothers are working in the J.B. Pastor & Fils Group, Jean-Victor, (1968) as Director and Patrice (1973) as Chairman, since very young Philippe’s choice was that to be a self taught abstract expressionist. Before thirty years of age he had attained the attention of the art critics. To stand out as an artist in Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States he had to be good, and this is what Philippe Pastor showed to us especially in the last 10 years. After his participation to the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, in 2009 the commissioner Miria Vicini and the coordinator Giacomo Zaza chosen the Monegasque artist to represent the Principality of Monaco in the 53rd International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale with his work «Le Ciel regarde la Terre» / («The Sky is Watching the Earth»), marking a major turning point in his career.
The show offered a first time exhibition of a nucleus of three great paintings, especially made for the event called “Les Cyclones, Le Pole Nord, La Nature Défigurée”, and an installation with burned tree trunks called “Les Arbres Brûlés» – (The Burned Trees). Like images of the Earth taken from a satellite, the wooden panels were exhibited in the open so to interact with the weather. The great paintings looked out over a sort of human and natural chaos, divided by themes: nature, North Pole, pollution. At the origin of the representation lie his feelings before climate change, death, anxieties and environmental disasters. This disquiet is channelled through the flow of painting, which he puts into his works. The creativity of Philippe Pastor, halfway between monumental painting and wood sculpture, prospers in a multiple variety of subterranean perspectives which goes beyond the fleeting aspects of today’s society: it opens up to a reflection about issues of the collectivity and the environment, always keeping well in mind the endogenous relation with nature, together with the symbolic interpretation of things. He says, “Nature is beautiful in itself, but what will our children inherit? Because of the behaviour of an irresponsible minority, and the decisions that are being made, life can become hell for everyone. I don’t create my art works to talk about myself. I let the public draw their own conclusions. What will remain are paintings and installations. My goal is to reach the public with my work. Every day I pray for people to think differently, but I have very little hope that we will save Earth.”
Protection of nature, rebellion against man’s negligence towards our planet – these are the main themes expressed by the artist. Philippe Pastor has developed through his work a personalized vision of Nature, translating Man’s interaction with the planet. Using living matter, its transformation through time and immediate surroundings, combining soil, pigments, minerals and plants of all kinds, Philippe Pastor represents his vision of life, environmental destruction and Man’s involvement in society. In Monaco, his work his represented at “The Monaco Modern’ Art Galerie”, a former artist studio ideally located on the Avenue Princesse Grace, alongside the Villa Sauber and the Grimaldi Forum, and particularly active supporting environmental projects. Monaco Modern’Art has supported Philippe Pastor’s career, especially during his participation in the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennales.
The gallery has participated in most of Pastor’s publications and is regularly collaborating with the Association Art and Environment, created by the artist in 2007, to which the proceeds of the sale of his sculptures and all the funds collected during the events are allocated. Pastor takes part in programmes for reforestation and for making children aware of environmental problems. Perhaps the most famous Philippe Pastor’s project consists of a group of tall charred trees: “Les Arbres Brûlés» – (The Burned Trees). The totem trees come from the forest of Garde Freinet (Massif des Maures) – hit by the fire lit by an arsonist in 2003, and they come back to mark a path, this time an auspicious one, looking up to the sky. By means of these burned trunks, Philippe Pastor continues his commitment in favour of the United Nations Programme for the Environment and the campaign “Plantons pour la Planète” (“Plants for the Planet”)
The Monaco Modern’ Art Galerie has organized many touring exhibitions of “The Burned Trees”: in Paris Gare du Nord from October 22 to November 25 2014 in partnership with Gares & Connexions (SNCF) and the Fondation Nicolas Hulot, followed by a tree planting campaign in Madagascar in 2015. In Paris Gare Montparnasse from November 27, 2014 to February 28, 2015 in the context of the 20th anniversary of the «Convention to Combat desertification», in collaboration with the Art & Environement Association, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation (FNH) and Gares & Connexions (SNCF). On the Esplanade of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco in July 2016 as an integral part of the entrance of the European Art Fair Monaco, whose 6th edition (20-24 July2016) was also be coupled with the exhibition “Francis Bacon: Monaco and French Culture” (2 July-4 September 2016), in collaboration with Art & Environment association.
During the Summer 2017 at the Château des Marres, close to the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, the charred trees called for the vigilance of the public, sentinels of a region particularly affected by forest fires. Monaco Modern’Art was ensuring the maintenance of the installations, and especially “The Burned Trees” installation that since winter 2015 is permanently hosted at the Terminal Neige-Totem ski resort in Flaine (French Alps). The outdoor installation is made of 15 black burned trees. The restaurant features a painting of Philippe Pastor’s Blue Monochrome series. This winter, the Monaco Modern’ Art Galerie is exhibiting Philippe Pastor’s “Est-ce que ce monde est sérieux” (“Is This World For Real”?) from November to the end of February 2020, (open from Monday to Friday), from 11 am to 6 pm. It is the sixth exhibition dedicated to the artist’s work, after presenting Azul Tierra, Barcelona from December 1, 2014 to April 10, 2015; Les Oiseaux du Malheur (the Birds of Sorrow) and Recent works from November 2014 to February, 2015; Bleu Pastor – (Pastor Blue Monochrome) in June 2016; Avec le Temps II (About time II) in September 2016 and Terre & Metamorphoses in September 2019.
The gallery supports and shares Philippe Pastor’s commitment to environmental protection. Expanding the boundaries of contemporary art, it punctually opens spaces for collaborations, with other galleries or to support other institutions and events that are part of its approach. This is how the gallery worked with the United Nations during the “Plant for the Planet” Campaign in 2007-2008. Philippe Pastor being the official artist of the Monaco Pavilion at the Universal Exposition EXPO Milano 2015, Monaco Modern’ Art Galerie hosted an exhibition of he artist in the Monaco Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Milan to promote the Principality’s project, that was conceived with an eco-sustainable approach.