Emilio Perez’s third solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong, Footprints on the Ceiling, will showcase the artist’s unique method of combining painting and drawing in a body of new work that includes a monumental, 40-foot long mural painting, one of the artist’s largest site-specific works to date. The exhibition reveals a departure from previous bodies of work in the use of a richer, more complex color palette, a more distinct figuration, and expanded negative space. Also shown alongside the new paintings will be a triptych from 2011, on view for the first time in New York. The artist will be present for the opening on January 9th from 6-8pm.
Having always been attracted to painting and drawing, Perez’s unique practice is a back and forth conversation between the two mediums. Perez does not sketch or make plans prior to approaching his prepared panels. Rather, his dynamic compositions are arrived at in an intuitive additive / subtractive process. As he brushes wet-on-wet passages over a thin, atmospheric sprayed-on ground, colors blend and physical depth is built. He then commits to drawing back into the surface—slicing into it with a sharp Exacto knife— to peel away large and small areas that define the composition.
Each work expresses moments of spirited inspiration with elegant line defining dynamic overlapping - sometimes even churning - compositions that cannot be defined as having a
central or specific subject and therefore remain abstract. The interpretations are as diverse as Perez’s influences, which range from pulp fiction and sci-fi cover art, which are specific to this new series, to larger influences, including musical composition, Venetian and Romantic painting, and the Italian Baroque.
While the works in his last exhibition at Galerie Lelong saw a complete collapse between foreground and background, this new body of work activates and engages the background by opening up negative space and plays with layers of dimensionality to enliven the foreground in a fresh manner. Perez’s jewel-toned colors, which build upon the subdued shades and tertiary colors previously employed, add to this freshness.
Perez has been exhibiting since 1996 in museums and galleries throughout the United States and Europe, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Miami Art Museum; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Filiale, Berlin; Pace Prints, New York; and Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, France. In 2011 he completed a residency at the Lux Art Institute in California. Born in 1972, the artist lives and works in New York.