The opportunity arrived with an exhibition in the Frigoriferi Milanesi (cold stores in Milan), for which she had proposed a project that was going to develop into something bigger: some ten years ago, Julie Polidoro – French mother and Italian father – started to create her first “Fridges”, a series of paintings she keeps working on today.

Looking at these paintings, the word “freezer” might come to our mind, because they have something a little “pop” in them. They are deeply contemporary and a little outdated at the same time – like drawings of cruel children. These fridges contain  imaginary tales by Jules Verne, our present-day obsessions about food and healthy life, and medieval representations of angels and evils

Julie Polidoro loves playing with contrasts. In her fridges, she places food that we would never expect to see: pieces of exotic animals and African masks, jams of fruit and little angels, a bunch of luxury brand acronyms, eyes and noses, feet shot from a low-angle that look like ex-votos.

There are also words that walk on the surface of her images, titles of books and everyday expressions: “invisible hours”, “The Lost Time”, “Treasure Island”… These dense visions, often dissonant, bizarre and violent at the same time, bring back the style of some works of Art Brut, like the paintings of Aloyse and Henry Darger, or singular works such as those of Carol Rama, the Turinese artist who has long been observed by Julie Polidoro.

In these paradoxical images, we can peer into the visible and into what will soon become invisible – products that are going to disappear inside our body, images in which the empty joins the full, life joins death. In themselves, the contrast in the opacity of colours and the provisions reproduced on the paper and the canvas talk about the approaching of these contraries.

And as well as mixing the products in her fridges, Polidoro also mixes various techniques: she paints on canvas and paper, with industrial enamel paint, natural pigments mixed with animal glue and wax colours, allowing her to mix the most intense and the most opaque shades. In herself, she is somehow paradoxical. If, at times, her colours evoke Matisse and the Douanier Rousseau, we can also retrace some of Louise Bourgeois fierceness in her. The artist says that she has also drawn from photography, from the images of the mental patients by Giacomelli or Depardon.

And when we open our own fridge, are we really aware that such a banal object can slacken time? This is the fundamental concern of contemporary societies,  captured in the magazines from which Julie Polidoro takes her images. What are we really trying to achieve if not to slow the global warming, our own aging, our demise?

These paintings are today’s vanities.


Anaël Pigeat