Enoc Perez - Tender
31 October—20 December 2008
Opening: Friday 31 October 2008, 7—9 pm
Galerie Michael Janssen Berlin
After his solo exhibition in 2001 in the gallery’s showrooms in Cologne, the Galerie Michael Janssen now has the pleasure to present Enoc Perez’ second solo exhibition in Berlin.
The paintings of Enoc Perez are instantly recognizable. The peculiar surface screens a pathos across their photo-imagery that ingeniously denudes the images of both their privacy and their public iconic signi cance. Their surface renders the pictures as painting. It is an oddity, therefore, that Perez‘s surface effects are the result of a turn away from painting, to drawing. The surface points us to a central theoretical motion perceivable in the artist‘s paintings, a turning between schools of art, culture, and in uence. There is no resolution of this motion, no nal theoretical destination or quasi-historical statement. There is only, at last, a painting. This by itself may be taken as a nal statement.
But what sort of painting? Only material de nes it. Certainly the images do not. Perez layers pictures selected from postcards, downloaded images, or the artist‘s personal polaroids, by pressing paper backed with wet oil-stick monochromes against a canvas or paper, and drawing on its surface. The drawing is peeled away to leave a layer of printed paint. The drawing, the rough imprint of the artist‘s hand, works actively in competition with the images and their post-modern and sometimes pop familiarity. If as Sontag said, following Barthes, a photograph is „not only an image (as a painting is an image)... it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real, like a footprint or a death mask,“ Perez removed the selected photograph‘s privilege to the real, with the real hand of the artist, of the printer, of the craft. The nal painting is the record of an event in time, a series of events against, or on top of the photograph‘s. In its nal effect the process can be reminiscent of other artists, of Warhol for instance, or Tuymans, but in regards to its curious relation to the image and in its declaration of the time of painting, one might call it peculiarly Perez.
Perez shows himself a generation apart from both the forceful ancient modern of Picasso and Pound and the dif cult post-modern of Godard, particularly in how his work moves beyond the modern/primitive delusion in Freud that even in post-modernism via Deleuze and Guattari, continues to hamper modernism‘s reclamation of the ancient. Art itself, after post-modernism, has come to see itself both as anti-Oedipal and as scarlet emblem of modernity‘s never to be realized desires. Only pornography for Perez offers an end to pornography beyond fantasy. Only modernism itself offers a cinema able to penetrate its own ever-elusive in nite. Only painting, nally, will emblem desires that can be said to be neither modern, nor primitive, but real.
Perez‘s paintings, of course, are most particularly themselves in the real. Selectively scaled, smelling of oil smeared and printed, they answer desires of the art-viewer as sensual, phenomenological events in a real world that is built by such objects. Modernity‘s „discovery“ of the surface of painting, very like its „discovery“ of the primitive, was of course tightly linked to the surface‘s destruction in mechanical reproduction. It is peculiarly left to the denizens of the new century not only to rediscover the lie of that rst discovery but to discover anew the lie of the surface‘s destruction. In Perez‘s own life, the painter‘s resolute determination to remove the brush from his canvasses and return to a proto-printing, as he likes to tell it, came rst as a discovery. A discovery, however, of a method. Perez‘s paintings present a method as a way out beyond the in uences of the modern and the post-modern alike -- and into the always-primitive always-modern world as it remains for art to trace and to make anew.
Mark von Schlegell
Enoc Perez, born in 1967 in San Juan (Puerto Rico), lives and works in New York. Most recently, his works were presented in solo exhibitions at the Lever House in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami and the Collezione Maramotti/Max Mara Foundation in Italy.
Enoc Perez, Tender, Installation view, 2008, Galerie Michael Janssen Berlin