“Current Electric” is a collection of Anton Perich’s newest paintings. Like the artist’s previous works on canvas, the paintings in the exhibition are the product of Perich’s mechanical painting machine. Each work, which is composed of acrylic on canvas, recreates one of Perich’s own photographs.
Anton Perich, Andrea, 2011. Machine painting, 54 x 60 in. Courtesy of Microscope Gallery.
“Current Electric” is a collection of Anton Perich’s newest paintings. Like the artist’s previous works on canvas, the paintings in the exhibition are the product of Perich’s mechanical painting machine. Each work, which is composed of acrylic on canvas, recreates one of Perich’s own photographs. At times this is apparent, such as in the case of Nude, Emerald (2009), where countless horizontal lines give way to the form of a buxom young woman. In other pieces, like Great Magenta (2011), in which vibrant magenta lines thinly veil the underlying assemblage of works, the multiplicity produces a visceral energy within the painting but gives no clues as to what the original photograph may have been. Nevertheless, Perich assures viewers that there is a reproduction of at least one of his photographs in every painting.
Perich conceived of his mechanical painting machine in the 1970’s, after years of photographing left him unsatisfied with the limited role that photography can leave an artist in the recreation of images. While his Pop-art contemporaries turned to screen printing and photo emulsion (See Andy Warhol’s 16 Jackies) as a means of building creatively upon a photographic base, Perich endeavored to find a process which would allow for the reproduction of images, while preserving the artist’s role in creation. His machine does just that.
Take for example, Andrea, in which Perich portrays a woman, frontally from the shoulders up, in somber blues and browns. His use of negative space in the work gives it a self-conscious quality; streaks of canvas between the machine’s strokes of color are left unfilled, and much of the lines fail to reach, or extend past, the paintings borders. But while these details draw attention to the painting as a created work, the expression in the woman’s eyes and the subtle pursing of her lips are startlingly convincing, in a way that is difficult to recreate by hand, but effortless to reproduce with a photograph. That is not to say that skilled painters can not convey the emotion of their subjects, but to recreate every nuance of a gesture or glance verbatim by hand is nearly impossible—which is one of the reasons photographs are so valued; they do it in seconds. Perich’s machine can be thought of as the first of the world’s inkjet printers, which are widely used today in the reproduction of print media. However, Perich’s work lacks the prevarication of LaserJet produced images, which strive for exactness and replication. Perich’s mechanical painting machine facilitates, and indeed asserts, the artist’s ability to both create, and reproduce simultaneously.
Perich’s photographs, paintings, and short films have been exhibited and published internationally. Selections from his work remain in the private collections of the Warhol Museum, the Warhol Foundation, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
4 Charles Place
Buswick, Brooklyn NY
12 June – 3 July, 2011 Thursday- Monday 1-6 pm, or by appointment