Ben Brown Fine Arts is delighted to present Enoc Perez: The Cinematic Self, the gallery's first exhibition with Puerto Rican-American artist Enoc Perez. This will be Perez's first exhibition in the UK in over ten years and will feature new and recent artworks from his evocative series of interiors paintings.
Born in 1967 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Perez moved to New York in the 1980s to start his studies at the prestigious Pratt Institute. Fascinated by the city and its quintessential artists, Perez developed a distinct artistic vocabulary using architecture and spaces as a lens through which to examine symbols of power, identity, and aesthetics, both national and personal. He became known for his paintings of iconic utopian architecture, including those of American embassies around the world, and post-war American landmarks, his most celebrated work to date.
The Cinematic Self marks a bold new direction for the artist. Moving away from exterior images of architecture, Perez takes a step inside, delving into a myriad of interiors inhabited by renowned figures - artists, collectors and eccentrics of the twentieth century. Painted with vibrant colours, the artworks explore private spaces and examine how these glimpses into their dwellings can function concomitantly as portraits and formalistic exercises in what he refers to as 'brushless' painting. To achieve this Perez focuses on the minutiae of these diverse personalities; from the jostling cosmetic bottles filling Warhol's bathroom cabinet on East 66th Street in New York, to the Rolling Stones' lips cut-out displayed in the decadent mirrored interiors of Villa Nellcôte where they recorded Exile on Main Street, to the languid baroque nudes adorning the walls of Rudolf Nureyev's apartment at 23 Quai Voltaire in Paris. Conspicuously absent of the central figures, these spaces are strikingly expressive in their own right, revealing how individuality can be constructed through personal effects.
Further paintings capture pivotal moments such as Elvis Presley's legendary Jungle Room at Graceland where the ailing rock star made his final recordings, while another work features Marilyn Monroe's nightstand teeming with medicine bottles as pictured by the FBI forensic department following her death. Elsewhere the paintings act as a means through which Perez examines his own practice, notably in his portrayal of the apartment where Jean-Michel Basquiat resided in the late 1970s, just before his meteoric rise to fame. Perez describes the personal resonance of this instant in the artist's burgeoning career, recalling that Basquiat was 'the painter I wanted to be when I moved to New York'.
A highlight of the exhibition will be the artist's depiction of the late Francis Bacon's London studio. Perez was drawn to the space not only as a fellow artist but also for Bacon's connection to London itself, the city where he lived for the majority of his career. Perez's painting offers an intimate window into the working space of this luminary of British art.
For the artist this series represents an important return to his formal origins; whilst in recent years he had begun to experiment with a paintbrush, here he returns to his idiosyncratic 'brushless' technique for which he received acclaim during his early career .