Galerie Nathalie Obadia is proud to announce the first solo show by Enoc Perez in France. His work came to attention at the exhibition Dear Painter, Paint Me in 2002-2003 (Centre Georges Pompidou, Kunsthalle Vienna, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt). His first major solo show in an institution will be at MOCA, Miami in December 2007.
Enoc Perez was born in 1967 in Puerto Rico. In 1990 he moved to New York, where he lives and works today. He is a graduate of the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn and holds an MFA from Hunter College.
The portraits, singular structures and still lifes painted by Enoc Perez are all characterised by a search for desire and beauty. He considers art as being about "references between images and my own life." His works are both alluring and enigmatic.
The paintings are the result of a painstaking, complex method. Perez belongs to the generation that came of age in the 1990s. Reviving figuration, they use photography as a model and material for painting.
This return to painting occurred against the background of the domination of minimal and conceptual art in the 1970s, a period when painting was declared dead, especially in the US and Germany, and, later, the dominance of photography. In this context, young artists like Elizabeth Peyton and John Currin used the medium of painting and its fascination to engage with the ubiquitous world of media imagery.
But Perez's paintings do more than just evoke popular culture and notions of lost identity. His is an aesthetics of pathos in which buildings (hotels, airports) and portraits (mainly of women) and objects are always painted in close-up, as if emerging from resurgent memories. They are sources both of creativity and identity.
Based on personal or archive photos, the paintings begin with drawings, in which each component colour is tried out individually before being transferred by hand to the canvas in a kind of frottage technique. The surfaces of these paintings can comprise as many as 30 layers of colour, and making them is a time-consuming process that calls for almost obsessive patience. There is an obvious contradiction between the instantaneousness of the photographic model and the slow time of the painting. "The painting is made in time," says Perez.
And whereas the original photographs show reality, Perez's paintings are all about printing; their images are the physical traces of a process.
Thus the effect of these paintings is often melancholic and sensuous. The portraits have a powerful aura, a mixture of familiarity and withdrawal. This is due to the difference between the fleeting snapshot and the slow maturing of painting; between a sudden infatuation and enduring love.
The title of the exhibition, Faraway, sums up this physical and emotional distance, which can be either positive or devastating. Portraits of the painter's pregnant wife, of women friends, will feature alongside other subjects, conveying a strong emotional quality from a moment of great change in Perez's life