Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present the first ever solo exhibition in Asia by British artist Peter Peri, who has created a new series of large-scale paintings for the show. Equal in size, the paintings are built up by a dense monochrome screen of horizontal lines, bordered by a single black vertical strip, and maintain the artist’s ongoing engagement with a psychologically charged modernism.
In considering his first exhibition in Asia, Peri began to think about the French esoteric writer René Guénon, from whose 1953 book, The Reign of Quantity, the exhibition takes its title. In particular, Peri was drawn to Guénon’s description of the orthogonal cross as a symbol of 'universal man' in Eastern and Western traditions. Peri has always been fascinated by the moment of intersection between the lines of a cross form, and their ability to become a paradoxical point where unity and division coexist—where a position is marked and also somehow concealed. Furthering this line of thought, Peri explored Guénon’s explanation of the Taoist conception of the three dimensional, right angled cross, where the vertical represents the ‘will of heaven’, and the horizontal line represent a profile vision of the circles of Taoist individual lives. These paintings made of single vertical and multiple horizontal lines should not, however, be viewed as illustrations of Guénon’s formula, but rather as manifestations within abstraction of the continuous hiding/revealing dynamic at the point of intersection, which function here as a mechanism to explore shifting relationships between symbolism, abstraction, and figuration.
Guénon’s anti-modernist tendencies led him to view contemporary society as one which would turn individuals into uniform but separated units. Peri, whose grandfather was a Constructivist, has a personal relationship to early modernism. He continually disrupts and disorients in his work, and sees the subject of his work as “dissolution, or more precisely the fetishisation of dissolution, within modernity”. Each element of these works is interdependent, and cannot be isolated from the overall composition, which handles space with such complexity that the viewer is at once pushed to the surface of the work and the detail of the pen line, and simultaneously pulled into a seemingly infinite dimension.
Peri has worked consistently with the paint-markers and spray paint he first discovered as a young graffiti artist in London. In this new series, a single marker pen colour becomes the ostensible subject of each painting through a meticulous buildup of parallel lines that cover the length of the canvas. The manual imperfection of this drawing process leads to a ‘flickering effect’—a horizontal movement of colour that shifts and dissolves as we approach it—giving the paintings a tentative life of their own.
Speaking of Peri, Martin Herbert, art critic for Artforum and Frieze, and European Editor of Modern Painters states, “His artworks suggest, but never reduce themselves to, an externalised entity, an embodied intelligence that stands in confrontation with the viewer, even when the work is seemingly near-abstract." In these paintings the accumulation of strokes that merge into brightly artificial colour fields create explicitly optical works where colour stands both as a cosmetic and as a dissolving element—something beyond language and individuation.
Peter Peri was born in 1971 in London, UK. He graduated from a Master’s Fine Art programme at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 2003. Currently, he lives and works in London, UK. Peri’s primary mediums are drawing, sculpture and painting: three distinct bodies of work which explore the tension between line and volume, figuration and abstraction, and the question of tradition and influence in Modernism. Peter Peri had his recent solo exhibitions Last Family (2013) at Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels, Belgium and We, The Children Of The 20th Century (2011) at Galerie Almine Rech, Paris, France. He has also shown at Art Now (2007), Tate Britain, London, UK; Country 10 (2006), Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; Classified: Contemporary British Art from the Tate Collection (2009), Tate Britain, London, UK; and How to Improve the World, 60 years of British Art—Arts Council Collection, Hayward Gallery, London, UK. His works are in the permanent collections of Tate Modern, Saatchi Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Arts Council of Great Britain Collection in UK, and UBS Funds (Kunsthalle Basel) in Switzerland.