The act of concretizing time, an ephemeral and intangible phenomenon, is something that ironically happens…over time. Sedimentary rock, archeological strata and wrinkles form over eons and decades. The act of representing, and therefore making visible and permanent, notions of time, is at the core of Gavin Perry’s resin artwork. The freestanding sculptures and wall hangings in his solo exhibition “History Lessons - Part Two” on view in the Miami Design District, are created from resin poured and solidified over days. The result is a shiny smooth surface built upon layers, like the cover of a closed book where the amassed pages below hold the story. When viewed from the side Perry’s colorful resign layers, like the book’s stacked pages, appear as blocks of knowledge. Expanding this analogy, Perry’s resin works invite an imagining of its contents...what would part two of our history be if it were (re)written?
To inspire a closer reading, Perry intentionally seduces the viewer to lean in to see the works detail by using delicious colors that recall Miami’s neon lights, the flavor of delectable desserts or perhaps the tropicalia of the Florida landscape. Polished, like a gemstone might be, Perry heightens the luster and allure of the works joyful hues, hues which exist symbiotically with a city that values shine.
Yet, Perry carefully resists the spectacle. By inserting chunks of resin blocks from previously discarded works within the work’s layers he reminds us that the past is implanted in the strata that beckons us closer. This effect recalls precious amber made more valuable with embedded fossils or insects reminding us that these are in fact relics dug up from the earth. Perry further juxtaposes the sensational with order, linearity and uniformity. As artist Liam Gillick uses abstraction and colorful forms adopted from “aesthetics of the constructed world” such as architecture and advertising to converse with art history, Perry combines Modernist sensibilities with contemporary color and technique. This is a nod to art history, which is also evident in the work’s mode of presentation including monotone wood pedestals and pristine white walls— traditional tenets for showing art.
Perry is acutely aware of the impact of time on perspective—one layer of resin covers another forever changing its visibility, color and reading. Using comfortable conventions for exhibition as a lure, Perry then challenges us to imagine what a two-part lesson of art history, and our history, would comprise. If each layer represented an experience of our life, this year alone would provide a colorful, mottled and deeply embedded strata.
Explore this exhibition in Paradise Plaza, 151 NE 41st Street, Suite 127.