The painting of Eric Pérez


A landscape can only be viewed from the
interior of those who inhabit it.

                                                                                  Caspar David Friedrich

Far from being linked to anything-goes conceptualism or appearing as a post-pictorial bi-dimensionality of the perpetual kind, the paintings of Eric Pérez are consistently placed in the millenary mode of the configuration of images on a base. In consequence, the painter has chosen to start from his own personal history, a series of visual motives which have had intimate results: the multiple spaces of water and its relative frontiers with the dry lands of memory and desire; and the presence, in the distance or in semi-definition, of human figures in ever mysterious transit through the vast natural scenery.

It is evident to the eye that Eric Pérez is in full search and appropriation of a suggestive ensemble of visual resources and material effects, in the recent tradition of late- modern painting. In this case I am referring to the constant use of progressions and rhythmic cuts in the sense and saturation of the different blending of colors, and to those unexpected oil landscapes, sometimes violent and rapid in roads of grammatical purity, other times measured and rounded in iconic construction.

The four bodies of work presented in this exhibition show the common tendency of an obsessive visitation of re-framed scenes of romantic landscape, a visual genre that has not yet lost its powers of representation, an example of which is its highly seducing recurrence in the works of numerous contemporary filmmakers. That is surely due to the fact that it is the kind of image in which the visible appearances of the setting are controlled in the moment of artistic registry, by the subjective narratives, from the zone of the mind.

Eric Pérez’s sources have become absorbed as his own in order to produce his recent work, not just composed of other painters or experiences of visual reception and a reading of the world. For some of the paintings that form this exhibition particularly, the artist makes deliberate reference to his reading that took him through the extraordinary chapters of Ka, perhaps the most surprising book to have been published on Hindu mythography and mythology. Roberto Calasso’s text has provided time and place in the painter’s mind for a matrix of imaginings, and has generated within it a saga of the places and an epic of the acts. Krishna, infinite love, the incarnated lover; Rudra, the inexorable archer; Ushas, the hasty aurora; Agni, the fire of the beginnings: all these figures are the same figuration: the eye that fuses inhabited landscapes with the object that captivates vision.

Eric Pérez is a traveler in the wide sense of the word. This condition reminds us that, while a conventional painter, he is a contemporary artist. On many occasions he has moved across the physical geography of the planet, while furthermore he is continually moving through the terrain of his deepest memories. Most recently, he has passionately passed through the plains and temples, forests and pools of a sacred land that is visible but which appears from within and is heading inward, which never existed outside because it was simply the impression of a story: a literature of myth.

I have already mentioned that the pictorial mode inscribed in the work of Eric Pérez, while somewhat conventional, assumes the supremacy of an image and dissimulates the reality of the structure, meaning that his paintings understand and suggest that the canvas and the easel do not exist or are irrelevant, or better still, pretend that they are in some way asleep and are dreaming the representation. At other moments, I insinuated that he was a late-modern painter who exploited the possibilities of a concrete material record at the time of representing it on the easel. I do not see a contradiction between these two arguments, both born out of an approximation of the paintings, but they form an invaluable provocation for current art, for cultural institutions and viewers, for part of society. Who still dares for the kind of dreams in which it doesn’t matter whether they come true or not?

Erik Castillo
México 2002