The Cinematic Self
This will be Perez’s first exhibition in the UK in over ten years and will feature new and recent artworks from his evocative series of interiors paintings.
Born in 1967 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Perez moved to New York in the 1980s to start his studies at the prestigious Pratt Institute. Fascinated by the city and its quintessential artists, Perez developed a distinct artistic vocabulary using architecture and spaces as a lens through which to examine symbols of power, identity, and aesthetics, both national and personal. He became known for his paintings of iconic utopian architecture, including those of American embassies around the world, and post-war American landmarks, his most celebrated work to date.
The Cinematic Self marks a bold new direction for the artist. Moving away from exterior images of architecture, Perez takes a step inside, delving into a myriad of interiors inhabited by renowned figures - artists, collectors and eccentrics of the twentieth century. Painted with vibrant colours, the artworks explore private spaces and examine how these glimpses into their dwellings can function concomitantly as portraits and formalistic exercises in what he refers to as ‘brushless’ painting. The artist developed this distinctive technique in the late 1990s in response to the New York tradition of painter as printmaker, and the blurring of the space between them. Perez transfers oil paint to the canvas by means of pressing and rubbing multiple small impressions which are gradually built up one by one to form the whole image.
In this new series of works Perez focuses on the minutiae of these diverse personalities; from a tiger skin rug strewn in front of Andy Warhol screen-prints in Fred Hughes’ Factory office, to the Rolling Stones’ lips cut-out displayed in the decadent mirrored interiors of Villa Nellcôte where they recorded Exile on Main Street, to Le Corbusier’s drawing tools laid out on his drafting table in front of one of his own paintings. Conspicuously absent of the central figures, these spaces are strikingly expressive in their own right, revealing how individuality can be constructed through personal effects.
Further paintings capture pivotal moments such as Elvis Presley’s legendary Jungle Room at Graceland where the ailing rock star made his final recordings, while another work features David Bowie’s unmade bed following a night of drinking with Soviet soldiers as he crossed Siberia by train in 1973. Elsewhere the paintings act as a means through which Perez examines the great collectors of the last century, such as in the Roman palazzo of Gianni and Marella Agnelli and the Paris home of Jacques Doucet, their walls studded with artworks from their famously impressive collections.
A highlight of the exhibition will be the artist’s depiction of the late Francis Bacon’s London studio. Perez was drawn to the space not only as a fellow artist but also for Bacon’s connection to London itself, the city where he lived for the majority of his career. Perez’s painting offers an intimate window into the working space of this luminary of British art.
For the artist this series represents an important return to his formal origins; whilst in recent years he had begun to experiment with a paintbrush, here he returns to his idiosyncratic ‘brushless’ technique for which he received acclaim during his early career.