TOILETPAPER: Unsettling Surrealism in Print
The images of Toiletpaper, a bi-annual no-text magazine, are loud, vibrant, and occasionally troubling, capturing dark humour in a polished spread. The magazine was founded in 2010 by artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, who see Toiletpaper as a way to push boundaries and challenge their own skillsets.
Each edition showcases images designed from scratch, arising from a chosen general theme. Concepts like love or greed form the foundation for brainstorming ideas, which become sketches and evolve into the characteristic Toiletpaper aesthetic. Planning is not set in stone, however, as Cattelan explains that improvisation garners the best results. The magazine boasts a unique style that is instantly recognisable, utilising bold, bright imagery in an attention-grabbing pop-art theme. The highly saturated photos make for striking spreads with rarely a single focal point, instead showcasing contrasting details that compete for attention.
The core of the aesthetic – what makes an image a Toiletpaper image – actually lies outside of the colour palette, and is difficult even for the creators to pin down. “Like distilling a perfume,” it is something continually experimented with, but can be vaguely described as an uncanny twist. An image of a beautiful woman with curlers in her hair is innocuous until you realise there are hotdogs within the curlers. A mouse standing astride a tortoise against a pink background is deceptively simple, raising questions never to be answered. In one of the more disturbing images, severed fingers rest on a textured blue background. Their immaculately painted red nails, bulky rings, and uniform spacing are at odds with their striking disembodiment.
Pierpaulo Ferrari describes the nature of the magazine as “ironic and unsettling at the same time,” indicating a playfulness in the macabre. This is highlighted in the magazine’s latest endeavour – a partnership with Italian design company Seletti. The Casper & Casper team were fortunate enough to see the fruits of this partnership at DENFAIR 2019, where Seletti Wears TOILETPAPER comprised the brightest collection in the exhibition. The uncanny images of the magazine are plastered across tablecloths, chairs, umbrellas, crockery, and more. Stefano Seletti, a long-time fan of Toiletpaper, wished to bring the magazine’s imagery into the homes of the company’s clients, and at the first meeting Cattelan and Ferrari, the collaboration was almost guaranteed. Seletti now provides an eclectic range of homewares that are made exclusive only according to the audacity of potential buyers: the company advertises the products as must-haves “for those who dare.”
The challenging photos published in Toiletpaper are bold additions to any home, bringing not only colour but a dark edge to the space. The brightly coloured surrealism is often strange and hypnotising, and the fusion of such oddity with every-day products is almost as jarring as the images themselves. The Casper & Casper team are so glad to have seen the collection in person, and we encourage everyone to explore the magazine.
Exhibition "TOILETPAPER" will be presented at the White Gallery (Galerie Blanc) until May 1, 2020.
Top: Sylvain Granier