Pablo Tomek opened his recent solo exhibition at Pop;68 Gallery this month. The show titled “Effets secondaires” or secondary, side effects showcases a new series of work based upon his signature gestural markings with an emphasis on unintended side effects. Hybrid paintings that hover between traditional painting and sculptural relief open new territory for the artist to explore. “Effets secondaires” delivers a strong body of work that engages multiple aspects of painting and its role to the artist. There are plenty of metaphors to be contemplated when looking at Tomek’s work, and this exhibition seems to clearly capture a pivotal point in the artists progression.

Coming from a graffiti background and working with the foundation of a tag, Tomek has been able to evolve this gesture to its purest form and creating a new unique mark. This secondary mark can also be seen as a side effect or secondary effect at first maybe unintended but found through thousands and thousands of repetitive gestural mark making. What really stands out is how the artist continues to utilize uncommon materials to create paintings that contrast these gestures and build new sculptural work. These hybrid paintings engage a contemporary audience as much as they do a graffiti audience, this ability to remain honest with his work while at the same time engaging new territory is one of the artists strengths. Tomek has painted on glass or reverse images in the past, yet these new works go deeper than just material. Plastic and paint is trapped under glass planes creating impromptu compositions and allowing for new structures to emerge. It interesting to see these materials trapped inside the glass in a way mirroring how painting can be viewed in contemporary art, trapped in tradition and without much room to escape its own conventions. “Effets secondaires” provides multiple anecdotes to contemplate conceptually as well as aesthetically and proves to show Pablo Tomek’s rising status as one of today’s most important emerging artists.


A side effect is an effect occurring in addition to the primary (or main) effect desired during the application of a treatment for a given indication. A side effect can be desirable, undesirable or neutral depending on the case. For example, the glossy effect of varnish can be desirable or not as a prescription against chromatic senescence.

The definition of a treatment’s side effect depends on the definition of its primary effect, which is the sought after effect. For example, a tarp used by workers to protect the floor has shown itself to be effective for such a purpose, and while subject to the spatter of paint, it has subsequently revealed its own pictorial virtues.

A solution has been birthed from it, transforming side effect into desired effect. In this symptomatic case the undesirable becomes the desirable.
Could we then consider that a fractured windowpane, through its contusions, as giving a side effect? Whether an appropriate treatment’s side effect be beneficial, negative, or neutral depends thereafter on its creative and conceptual context.

All an artwork’s side effects are not always known before being sent off into the art market, particularly with its audience or collector. The benefit/risk ratio of a need or task is assessed continuously, in order to measure known or newly identified adverse effects. Therefore, side effects are spoken of in a number of non-artistic fields, for example in medicine when something occurs in addition to the primary effect.