Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity (2023) Film Review


Paul and trisha the art of fluidity

A short trip down the life of a man whose ability to express goes beyond any initial conception. Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity is a very interesting film about the various shades of art, all condensed, and seen through the eyes of a powerful artist whose confidence and upbringing has modeled him into someone very unusual. You’ve probably seen Paul Whitehead’s work  in the past. You only don’t know it’s actually him. From album covers (by the band Genesis) to paintings currently displayed on museums, he’s done it all, and there’s a story behind every single work. However, this art isn’t the reason for the documentary. It’s just an introduction to a way of life.

In Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity, we enter the mind of an artist. As common as this sounds, you never know what to expect. In the case of Paul Whitehead, it’s a beautiful trip down memory lane. We meet first-hand everything that’s modeled him to become the very interesting artist that has the ability to turn into someone else on occasion, and whose happiness lies on being able to observe and interact with the world. He’s kind and openhearted in a way that few artists in California are. Whitehead’s biggest secret is that he’s also Trisha. An alter ego? A character seen only when Paul cross-dresses? Perhaps it’s a bit more complicated than that, albeit truly fascinating.

As Paul speaks, he slowly starts turning into Trisha. This journey is an engaging exploration of the boundaries of expression. What’s important is that Whitehead doesn’t make a show about it. He’s just following himself and the idea that’s always allowed him to be confident enough to portray someone that didn’t exist at first, and which people don’t necessarily accept. Certainly, our society is hostile enough towards the transgender community to see Paul as a threat. As he says so in the film: This is just a matter of free will. You are supposed to do whatever you want. In his case, artistic expression has transcended beyond the boundaries of a conservative society that sees artists not necessarily for what they do, but for what they are. So, if Whitehead is doing this for art, imagine people who turn into someone else and it becomes an inevitable life direction.

Nevertheless, Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity doesn’t portray the artist as someone who can only represent himself by being Trisha. He’s sure about what he’s doing and how he copes. He talks about taking hormones, but admits he didn’t like it. It seems Paul’s stability can only come from giving Trisha the paintbrush and let her express herself. In fact, her art is nothing like Paul’s. It’s an eclectic and beautiful mess that gives you an idea of Whitehead’s mindset.

Whitehead’s mind is unique. He thinks like no other, and his struggle is the opposite of what you’d think. He’s a very religious and spiritual man who trusts God enough to tell us he doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t believe he’s a woman born in the wrong body. He believes he’s a consequence of social conditioning, and that we must accept. The film is a complex, yet friendly and honest conversation with an artist whose range is amazing, and it’s all because he decided to accept unconditionally who the artists are: Paul & Trisha.

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Federico Furzan

Founder of Screentology. Member of the OFCS. RT Certified Critic

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