ARTIST:

Peter Peri

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Peter Peri
Blood Sucker, 2005
mixed media on canvas
76 x 61 cm

Peri’s canvases seem to extract a disquieting mysticism from their sparse pictorial fields. Within the pristine contours of his diagrammatical motifs, Peri interrupts the ascetic sterility of his surfaces with minute traces of intimate intervention. In areas the pitch density of his veneers spontaneously bubble over impasto under-painting or erode to leave an oil-stained effect; while delicately rendered lines and arcs shift imperceptibly in tone, some vanishing into nowhere, others interceding with trailing drips of paint. Through this subtle mediation, Peri’s work entrances with a rarefied elegance, creating a highly articulate abstraction that is both analytical and tactually elusive.

Peter Peri
Infanta, 2005
mixed media on canvas
153 x 122 cm

Peri’s grandfather was a well-known Constructivist artist and is a primary influence in his work. “I’m very interested in the roots of early Modernism, Suprematism, Dada/Constructivism,” Peri explains. “All the elements which were used to fill the gap left by the absence of the figure, e.g. the allusion to tradition as validation in compositional rigor, political commitment, the pseudo science of people like Pyotr Ouspensky concerned with higher knowledge, the 4th dimension etc.; and in the anxiety involved in that, the excess of stuff that gets poured into the sparseness of geometric abstraction. There’s something psychologically painful about looking at all that effort towards human advancement that was lumbered onto abstraction from where we are today. The pattern of the balls in this painting reminded me of Velasquez portraits of the Infanta. I liked the idea of them as desolate units forming into an absurd representation of a figure.”

Peter Peri
The Call, 2005
mixed media on canvas
122 x 92 cm

“The title is from H.P. Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu,” Peri reveals. “I thought that the two circles had the look of sound waves, so this painting became about a relationship between a sound and a moment of visual appearance or birth. Lovecraft’s personal take on Futurism was a horrified one (in his story the call summons up a monstrous 4th dimensional creature and city) and I’m interested in that abyssal aspect of Modernism as a movement of new beginnings, its unfamiliarity, and the violence involved in the idea of abstraction. When I work I only use spray paint, silver marker pen and 4 colours; pink, yellow, green, and blue. I use ruled lines and stencilled shapes (the balls are made by spraying through a masking tape roll). The idea is to try to preserve that sense of violence and distance that not working freehand creates; I want to avoid them becoming expressionistic in a certain sense."

Peter Peri
Slab Block, 2005
mixed media on canvas
122 x 91 cm

“A Slab Block is a type of housing estate block, like Corbusier’s L’Unité,” Peri says. “I wanted the implied monumentality of the title to apply to a fairly modest size painting. I grew up on an estate with lots of these blocks and I liked that this painting might be a messy ill-constructed attempt at making a structure that stands up and contains itself. I want the work to always show its construction: the thickness of surfaces built up, the ghosted lines of marks visible underneath the surface. I don’t want the paintings to be clean and flat in order to assert their contemporaneity, rather that they show a problematic depth and broken surface, which seems to me more appropriate for the history of abstraction. There’s a Markus Lupertz quote I really like, that “abstraction is like the apple of knowledge - once it’s been tasted there’s no going back", which I take to mean that now one has to circle around it somehow.”

Peter Peri
Tunnel, 2005
mixed media on canvas
76 x 76 cm

“This is a very grid-like painting but the grid seems to be covering a darker hole which threatens its integrity,” says Peri. “The hole is a patch of gloss black over the rest of the surface which is matt black. This difference in paint finish is something I use a lot, it seems to posit depth - often there’s a grid at the bottom of the paintings too which indicates a rudimentary perspective. I think of that kind of illusionism as both a formal element to create interior space and a sort of armature to be disrupted.”

Peter Peri
Village House, 2005
mixed media on canvas
102 x 127 cm

“Like Slab Block, Village House presents an idea of a precarious constructed unit, but at the opposite end of the architectural scale,” explains Peri. “I never start with a sketch or an idea, the paintings always come about from trial and error, looking for something new that seems to hold the picture surface in tension, I think a lot about the edges of the canvas and supporting them. The surface gets a kind of lacquered quality from the many coats of spray paint, but because I paint quickly, correcting and painting over things, it also gets very heavily worked and pitted. There’s this feeling of alternately revealing and hiding when I paint.”

Peter Peri
The Hearing Forest and The Seeing Field, 2006
mixed media on canvas
180 x 150 cm

“The title is from a Bosch drawing where a tree has ears and a field has eyes,” says Peri. “The idea of a problematic or absurd attempt at anthropomorphizing is important for me and I like titles that imply a bodily presence. I think I started to see the squares in this painting as possibly both holes in a structure and apertures looking out.” For Peri, these physical transferences or possibilities are inherent within his understanding of geometric abstraction, a drive to “discover oneself” in the work, and find one’s own place and position within art’s history and continuity.

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