Paul Plumadore has been making paper montage art since 1975 and was named "Upcoming Illustrator" by Art Direction Magazine in 1976. His collages have graced book jackets, record covers, and editorial stories for Dell Books, Avon Books, RCA Records, Psychology Today, The New York Times, among others.
He began his eclectic career when he discovered dance at age 7. By his early 20s, he was on the faculty of the Dance Department at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, after receiving his BFA there and becoming a founding member of The NYU Dance Ensemble. He went on to perform with The Paul Taylor Dance Company, to head the Dance Department at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, and to present his own choreography under the aegis of Paul Plumadore & Co.
He and his partner, Jim Tindell, formed River Road Antiques Ltd in 1994, selling antiques at such venues as The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg, and The Park Avenue Armory in New York City.
From 2006-2012 he and Jim created and managed Center44 (and Center44.com) an Antiques and Modernism showroom in Midtown Manhattan that represented 75 International dealers and catered to the upscale design trade.
During this time, Paul created Brain Child, a surreal fairy tale told in verse and profusely illustrated which will soon be available on Amazon. His second book, a memoir titled Archive 1957-1974 is available now on Amazon. He and Jim currently live and garden on the Delaware River in a self-designed house which was featured as "Home of the Month" in Log Home Living magazine. In 2015, Paul began showing his art in various gallery venues and was one of four Solo Show Award recipients at the 2015 Northeastern Biennial. That solo show took place at the Afa Gallery, Scranton, PA in Sept 2016. He has been twice honored by having works hung in the State Museum of PA during the 2016 and 2017 Art of the State competition, and was recently featured in the hard cover book, Making the Cut: The Best Collage Artist's in the World.
The dependence of light on darkness, whimsy on pathos, the sacred on the profane, forms an enigma we call life. My goal is to unite these extremes by forging them together, melding highly diverse elements to create new and startling graphic images.
In my first trials to create this tension, I was struck by a core memory: "Oh, my God," I thought, "paper dolls!" I recalled being mesmerized by the delicate cutouts. I deliberately put the wrong clothes on the figures, even exchanging their heads. I couldn't have been more than 5.
At 17, an astrologer told me that "paper" would have a strong influence on me. At the time I was fully committed to life as a dancer. The reading made no sense.
In a dream a few years later, I saw a black space where walls of paper stretched ahead of me in endless layers and I had to dance my way through them. This dream became the basis of "Paper Weight," an improvisational theater piece that recreated the dream and ended in a blizzard of white paper confetti.
At age 26, while looking through a picture book from my childhood, I impulsively picked up an Exacto knife and began dissecting its pages and gluing them back together. It felt like sacrilege to cut the book, but then a benediction to make something new from it. The first image I created was called "Darwin's Library."
This led to a busy career as a commercial illustrator. Before long, though, I began to view the pastiches I was creating - under short deadlines, about subjects of little interest - as meaningless. I walked away from a budding career.
Then, in 1986, after the loss of a loved-one in the first grim days of the AIDS epidemic, I withdrew from the world to grieve and center myself. I remembered some beautiful bound editions of 19th Century Victorian magazines that had been a gift from a fellow dancer. As I paged through them, the urge to cut and reassemble was reignited. I wanted these new, Gothic flavored efforts to reveal dichotomies, riddles, cryptic symbols, and mysterious messages - unsettling and absurd - and to challenge preconceived ideas about reality, the same way that dreams do.
I accomplish this paper art using surgeon's scalpels to silhouette a variety of antique and, occasionally, contemporary imagery culled from engravings, lithographs, and prints of all kinds. Scientific, botanical, and anthropological material is of special interest to me. All cuts are carefully inked to make a seamless composition which is assembled with acid-free bookbinding materials. I sometimes scan these montages to make high-resolution digital prints, selectively colorizing them. I have also experimented with adding rhymes to accompany some of these pieces. Examples can be found in my Parallel Universe Blog. Those experiments evolved into my 2015 book Unthinkable, a fairy tale told in an epic poem with over 100 collage illustrations.
My early background in theatre - from amateur tap dancer to professional modern dancer - provided a wide range of illuminating experiences: from sequins and pizazz to the darker mysteries of the heart and spirit, and the theatrics of heightened states of being. In this sense, I approach each assemblage as a piece of choreography, a theatrical event occurring at the point where worlds collide. As for my writing, my father knew dozens of limericks and could recite all of "The Rime of Ancient Mariner" by heart. I was intrigued by the sounds, cadences, and wordplay. This, nursery rhymes, and the rhythms and percussion of tap dancing are early sources of my attraction to verse.
Alliteration, animation, anthropomorphism, black comedy, fairy tales, fantasy, magic, mysticism, mythology, penny dreadfuls, phantasmagoria, puppets, Romanticism, science fiction, Steampunk, stream of consciousness, Surrealism, and Theater of the Absurd have all colored my sensibilities. If I were to list the names of eclectic personalities that have influenced me, it would include Guiseppe Arcimboldo, Frank Baum, Aubrey Beardsley, Hieronymus Bosch, Tim Burton, Joseph Campbell, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, Joseph Cornell, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Max Fleischer, Terry Gilliam, Edward Gorey, The Grimm Brothers, Alejandro Jadorowsky, James Joyce, Carl Jung, Buster Keaton, Stanley Kubrick, Ogden Nash, Alwin Nicolai, Auguste Rodin, Ken Russell, Stephen Sondheim, Dr. Suess, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mae West.
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