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Paul Thorel dedicated himself to the aesthetics of the electronic image since the late 1970s, collaborating with experimental production centres in Italy and abroad as an artist and programmer. His pioneering research on the border between art and new media has produced a reservoir of works of art that reinvent the photographic language, creating a short circuit between the genres of portrait and landscape through a synthesis of image, memory and process.


Paul Thorel (London, United Kingdom, 1956; Naples, Italy, 2020), an Italian-French artist, grew up in France, United Kingdom and Italy. He began painting at the age of fourteen in the Roman atelier of artist Carla Accardi, who organised his first exhibition in 1977, at just twenty-one years of age. From 1979, he dedicated himself to the electronic image, becoming a pioneer of digital art.

Art and technology

Thorel approached computer language before the global spread of personal computers, collaborating with some of the most technologically advanced centres in Europe — the INA Institut national de l’audiovisuel in Paris, the informatics department of the University of Genoa, RAI Radio Televisione italiana in Turin, V.D.S. Video Display System in Florence, and SBP CGE (Computer Graphics Europe) in Rome — for the development of new techniques of digital creation and production between 1979 and 1990.

In the same period, he also worked for various computer and multimedia companies for the production of background videos for theatrical performances, television themes, educational videos, digital special effects, interactive films and adverts for companies such as Coop and Rocchetta. In 1994 he moved to Naples to continue his career as a contemporary artist dedicated almost exclusively to new digital technologies.
In the 1980s, Thorel’s work was included in the first international art exhibitions dedicated to art and new media at the Salon de la Photographie et de la Video in Paris (1989), the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (1989 and 1992) and Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France (1993). In 1994 he was one of the artists included by Aperture in Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age, a special issue focusing on the integration of computers and photography, art and technology, which became a traveling exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York, N.Y. (1994), the Ackland Art Museum, UNC -Chapel Hill, NC, the San José Museum of Art, CA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA, the Tampa Museum of Art, FL, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City MO, and the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, TX.

Group shows

Notable participations in collective exhibitions include the exhibition Imprimatur. Artisti internazionali inediti in mostra, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva at the former church of San Carpoforo in Milan (1992), the exhibition Il Ritratto Maltrattato, curated by Lanfranco Colombo at the Galleria Il Diaframma in Milan on the occasion of the Kodak Cultura festival (1995), the exhibition Open Space at Modena per la Fotografia (1996), the exhibition Natura Inurbata: Pittura, scultura, fotografia e altri media at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome (1998), the Felici Coincidenze exhibition in the Art&Maggio exhibition in Bari (1999), the exhibition of the international festival @rt Outsiders, curated by Henry Chapier and Jean-Luc Sor, at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (2001), the exhibition La Camera dello Sguardo. Fotografi italiani curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, at Palazzo Sant’Elia in Palermo (2009-10), the exhibition Incontri…dalla Collezione di Graziella Leonardi Buontempo at the Académie de France à Rome, Villa Medici, Rome (2003), the exhibition Une histoire privée: la photographie italienne contemporaine dans la collection Anna Rosa et Giovanni Cotroneo curated by Jean-Luc Monterosso at the Maison européenne de la Photographie, Paris (2006), the exhibition O Vero! Napoli nel mirino, curated by Eduardo Cicelyn, Mario Codognato and Giovanni Fiorentino, at the Madre Museo di Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina in Naples (2010-11), the Digital Life exhibition organised by Roma Festival at Macro Mattatoio, Rome (2012 and 2013), the exhibition Quarantanni d’arte contemporanea. Massimo Minini 1973-2013, at the Triennale di Milano (2013-14), the exhibition Colloquio mitico, at the Galleria Fonti in Naples (2017), the exhibition Sette opere per la misericordia, curated by Mario Codognato, at the Church of Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples (2018) and the exhibition Prospettiva Arte Contemporanea. La Collezione di Fondazione Fiera Milano, curated by Alessandro Rabottini, at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan (2019).

Solo shows

Paul Thorel also had solo exhibitions at Galleria Il Labirinto, Rome (1977), Centre Culturel Français, Rome (1980), Galleria Ferro di Cavallo, Rome (1985), Biennale Internazionale della Fotografia, Turin (1991), Galleria Extra, Taranto (1992), Galleria Il Ponte, Florence (1993), Depot Gallery, Bologna (1994), Galleria Paola Verrengia, Salerno (1995), Incontri Internazionali d’Arte, Galleria d’Arte Moderna Spoleto (1996), Galleria Neos, Santeramo (1997), Galleria Bonomo, Rome (1998), Studio Trisorio, Naples (1998), Fendissime, Rome (2000), Galerie Taché Lévy, Brussels (2000), Art&Maggio Castello Svevo, Bari (2002), Museao Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2003-04), l’Institut français Firenze (2009), Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia (2010), MEP Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris (2012), Galleria Guido Costa Projects, Turin (2015), and Museo Madre Museo di Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples (2018).

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