Footprints on the Ceiling, carving the abstract steps of a Cuban American

/ 8 March, 2014

Emilio Pérez at Galerie Lelong, New York, January 4 – February 1, 2014


Emilio Pérez (New York, 1972) is one of the few artists with a Cuban background who has been able to carve a worldwide presence for himself. Like Teresita Fernández, José Bedia, Luis Gispert and Los Carpinteros, among others, his work is well-collected with a steady presence in a variety of museums and private collections, as well as in the halls of the most prestigious international art fairs represented by the New York galleries Pace Prints and Galerie Lelong.

Having always been attracted to painting and drawing, he engages in a unique practice that is a back and forth conversation between the two mediums. His hyperkinetic and anxious personality does not allow him to sketch or make plans prior to approaching his prepared panels, a custom that brings a distinctive freshness to his painting. Rather, his dynamic compositions are arrived at following an unorthodox and intuitive additive/subtractive process, taking on a sculptural quality. As a result, the created low-relief surfaces convey a striking and airy sense of three-dimensionality that almost invariably provokes a tactile sensation for viewers.

Footprints on the Ceiling is the third solo show of Emilio Pérez at Galerie Lelong in New York. He likes to name his personal shows after suggestive titles that create some fun and loosely prompt viewers about his intentions and states of mind. This exhibition is no less: (…) takes as its departure point sci-fi and pulp fiction novel covers. (…) Overall, the artworks in Footprints on the Ceiling are driven by a concentrated and cohesive energy; the compositions are structured toward a center, defining it as the focal point. This is a significant contrast to the general style of Pérez’s earlier work, in which the painting surfaces were entirely carved, resulting in a more expansive diffusion of energy and visual force. These recent works indicate his development as an artist whose manipulation of space, bounded yet flowing, continues to expose hidden layers of meaning in unexpected and fascinating ways.

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