Emilio Perez’s new paintings at the Galerie Lelong are systems of pandemonium. A maelstrom of evocative color and incessant motion, the work initially suggest the sturm und drang of abstract expression while only exposing its intimate sense of meticulous organization after careful study. Combining unrestrained, biomorphic patterns with an intensely methodical technique, Perez weds discord and harmony into a beguiling mélange of alluring kineticism and iridescent coloring. A sense of grandiose elegance emanates from the confusion, transcending the initial visual disorientation with a strangely subtle completeness. Turmoil flows into tranquility and unceasing motion finds a particular – if paradoxical – stillness.
Perez’s applies thick layers of acrylic paint to wood panels then carves through the polychromatic stratum to expose the underlying colors. The paintings exude a sumptuous intimacy and a surprisingly textured depth. Billowing, tonally delicate surfaces can burst into paroxysms of color and noise. The artist’s confident line boldly interweaves the composition, calmly ordering one area while grappling spasmodically with another. Although the juxtapositions are energetic and forceful, the final result achieves a sort of balance that, while not serene, is undeniably eloquent.
Teaming masses of form and color recall the drama and exuberance of the Baroque, one of Perez’s stated influences. The tactile splendor and opulent ornamentation of Baroque architecture is certainly on display in Perez’s work, which aspires to the same sort of visual extravagance found in many 17th century cathedrals. Luxurious sculptural details would unite to envelop and break free of their architectural frame, streaming dramatically through the environment like irrepressible gold and marble tendrils. Drowning on dry land, the largest of Perez’s new paintings, also overflows, spilling forth vaguely biological jumbles that resemble prismatic nerve endings.
Beyond the Baroque trimmings lies a more intellectual inquiry of painterly gesture, initiated by Perez’s graphic handling of the expressionist mark. From afar, the pieces resemble expressionist paintings, replete with grandiose brushwork and emotional gravitas. But closer examination reveals a sharpness of line and composition similar to Lichtenstein’s comic aesthetic. Perez’s gestures aren’t additive brushstrokes, but colors and lines revealed through the reductive but meticulous act of carving. The gesture’s significance as a spontaneous and emotionally charged symbol is inverted while maintaining its visual extravagance. This quixotic ambiguity lies at the center of Perez’s work, creating a potent, mysterious drama of form, color, and concept.
Emilio Perez: New Paintings
September 6 - October 13, 2007