• Pick of the Week

    Enoc Perez – Embassies

    We see the future differently in recent years, as the future presses relentlessly into the present – way beyond ‘future-shock,’ as termed by the futurists, Alvin and Heidi Toffler, into a kind of ‘present shock.’ This manifests in any number of ways, including the way we regard and represent the present. We see the past, not simply in the ruins or evidence of decay before us, but in aspects of the built environment or physical objects that only recently appeared fresh, innovative and brand new. Russell Ferguson touched on this issue (though not explicitly) in an important exhibition he curated for the Hammer Museum in 2004, titled (revealingly), The Undiscovered Country. Not surprisingly (in retrospect), this was where I first discovered the paintings of Enoc Perez – seemingly scraped, acid-washed ‘picture-postcard’ views of hotels, resorts, and classic, luxury apartment buildings. The palette was fresh but deliberately restrained, ‘greiged-out’ in pale pinks, greys, verdigris. It was a ‘saudades’ stroll through a reality (and memory) never quite achieved and pushing us mentally forward to a moment of displacement, abandonment, and (notably) solitude. In his current show at the UTA Artist Space, Perez turns his gaze more directly upon the present – specifically some of the classic 20th century modernist structures, all designed by some of the most important architects of the 20th century, that house many of the U.S. embassies abroad, including some of the most important foreign missions. There is a subtle, if slightly random, evolution of architectural rhetoric observable in the parade here – from variously arched, columned, glazed and mullioned facades to slightly distanced (occasionally moated), informal and brutalist variations, and finally, simultaneously hulking and concrete-screened models that reflect the trend toward fortification. Yet, through the deliberately mottled (dis)colorations and attenuated palette, we nevertheless see traces of a more expansive, open and receptive internationalist cultural moment – a vista or fragment of landscape that once notionally invited or at least engaged would-be visitors. Perez’s paintings underscore a change, not only in mood and attitude, but in American self-image. It’s not only the way foreign citizens see the U.S.; it’s the way we see the U.S. – and ourselves by extension. Embassy buildings (and not only those of the U.S.) once telegraphed not only sovereignty, but a notion of stability, dignity, even timelessness. The message here both painterly and architectural is a bit more raw: the sequestered and secret corridors of power – a concrete cloud that is ready to burst. 

    UTA Artist Space
    670 So. Anderson Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90023
    Show runs thru June 17, 2017

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