Emilio Perez, Drowning on Dry Land image courtesy Gallery Lelong
EMILIO PEREZ: NEW PAINTINGS
SEPTEMBER 6 – OCTOBER 13, 2007
With the eye-popping contrast of a Frank Miller comic, the glimmering surface quality of car and motorcycle decals, and a vernacular equally influenced by the baroque and urban graffiti, the paintings of Emilio Perez exhibit an undeniable magnetism which caters to any pop-sensible palate. It is difficult at first to distinguish what it is precisely about these works that enchants the viewer so unrelentingly.
From afar, the paintings look like buoyant depictions of brushstrokes outlined in harsh black lines in a manner similar to Lichtenstein’s paintings of the sixties. However, upon closer inspection, the black outlines do not adhere exactly to the directional thrust of the brush strokes. Instead, the frank application of black abruptly interrupts the expressionistic gestures of color. Perez’s method clarifies this separation of fields as a gesturally executed layer of colorful latex paint cut and peeled away from a sub-layer of black acrylic. Thus, compounding the obvious contrast of light and dark is another, more technically ambitious, contrast between sweeping gesture and banal application of paint.
Drowning on Dry Land (2007) is a monumental presentation of the Perez aesthetic. The top of the painting exhibits a strict black on white contrast. Here two widening diagonal beams cut across the enormous triptych like head lights on a foggy night. However, this layer of the work is being engulfed by a billowing amorphous cloud like thick smoke curling up to swallow an oncoming car. This conjured narrative simultaneously reinforces the comic book aesthetic and raises yet another juxtaposition between the forces of the sharp diagonal sweep and the organic, viscous swirls that drown it out.
The titles seem to buttress the energized surfaces of the pieces, suggesting narratives and allowing the viewer to choose their own adventure. While it is entirely possible that the titles stem from the artist’s personal experience or other sources, the irresistible attractiveness of the works cannot be emphasized enough. Look for Perez to be a future star in the art world.