VOLTA NEW YORK
MAY 18 - 22, 2022 

548 WEST 22nd STREET

BOOTH 207

Hours: Wed, 6 – 9PM / Thurs – Sat, 12 – 8PM / Sun, 12 – 5PM

Characterized by diversity, curiosity and inventiveness, the work of William Pérez (b. 1956, Cienfuegos, Cuba) embodies transformation. Recognizing and honoring his desire and duty to evolve and embrace change has led him to experiment with numerous techniques throughout his career including small installations in wood and metal, watercolor, stencil, cold drawing on canvas, large interactive installations, incised Plexiglas, fiber optics, resin and wire sculpture and robotics. Determined to live where he could promote his own evolution, William settled permanently in the New York City area in 2017. This decision would mark, as only emigration can, the voice of the artist.

Drawing in its purest form became an exercise of reorientation, enabling the process of letting go of the past and assimilating to a new reality. Caprichos de la Conciencia (Whims of Conscience), a series developed between 2018 and 2019 began with small format works in red ink on cardboard and took on the form of a personal map, a way of populating the city, of projecting – in the halls of the Met and the Guggenheim and in subway stations – the personal fantasy of belonging.

For the first time, these spaces that legitimize the coexistence of infinite cultures, concepts, and energies began to feel like they were spaces of my own. This sense of belonging provoked in me a certain irreverence — I started installing my own images in the context, bondage figures, levitating human hearts, bison, and peacocks.

It is that sense of irreverence, and a rebelliousness against any form of inertia that shaped his Torn Canvas Project, his latest series of red drawings, a new body of work that is perhaps a step further in terms of process, creation and reception, within his already complex and pluralistic voice.

I told a friend that I felt saturated and that I was ready to burn or tear all my finished works.

The Torn Canvas Project is essentially a commentary on the very nature of evolution. During this period the artist was also sketching small self-portraits based on photos taken with his cellphone. The fixed and calm gaze of the primates he drew initially, similar to Chimpanzee 2 (Living Nature), and his own pose in that moment made him realize that at times as humans we normalize what is happening around us, repressing our emotions. That is how the angry ape and monkey imagery was born—they are irreverent, their existence a showcase of primitively uncontaminated emotions and actions, making themselves seen in a call for attention, perhaps an acknowledgment of the bewilderment of being alive.

William draws, in large and medium format, apes and monkeys in red acrylic on canvas—the drawing itself, the first stage, is a dramatic display of emotion in its pure form with expressive lines tracing the gestures of the faces and sharp fangs. But the process goes beyond the images – these are born and later die, transformed into a completely different form with new meanings that surpass the act of contemplation. Next, with a knife, he manually cut the canvas into 60 vertical strips, the “finished piece”. He signs each fragment, carefully rolls them individually and installs them in a lucite box. Each of them is now a separate work with an independent destiny and purpose. The change, the transformation from one state to another, makes this work a bridge between painting, sculpture, installation and performance and therein lies the artist’s true objective: to develop, in front of our astonished eyes, which would perhaps prefer the drawings as they are/were, the capacity of transformation, of the evolution of an idea, and with it, the potential of adaptation to new values within ourselves.
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Capuchin (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

60” x 60”

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Chimpanzee 1 (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

48” x 48”

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Gorilla (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

48” x 48”

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Chimpanzee 2 (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

60” x 60”

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Baboon (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

48” x 48”

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Baboon 2 (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

48” x 48”

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Chimpanzee 3 (Living Nature), 2022

Torn Canvas Project

Acrylic on canvas

48” x 48”

Life is comprised of moments, and it is those moments that reach the highest degrees of emotion that endure in memory.

Artists often builds intrigue through their ability to create large works with a distinctive, personal stamp. This ceased to interest me a long time ago. As a result, I’ve found the most fortunate chaos of my career. Torn Canvas No I is my first work to live two lives: it dies and reincarnates itself, leaving behind the memory of what it was to multiply itself into 60 fragments that each have their own lives and destinies.

Torn canvas No I is a work that focuses on the event and makes the client the custodian of its existence: the opportunity to be custodians of the documentation of the work from the beginning of its gestation until the moment of its transformation turns the client into an accomplice who participates in the work's transcendence.

In a general sense, Torn Canvas No I, like the great authors of humanity, transgresses itself and focuses its essential objective on the transformative action of creation.
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"In this first edition, I have cut the acrylic on canvas manually with a knife, into 60 vertical strips. I have signed each fragment, carefully rolled the individual piece, and installed each work in a lucite box, each one constituting a work in itself with an independent, different destination."

Torn Canvas 58/1, 2021
Acrylic on Canvas, Wood and Plexiglass

3.75" x 8" x 3.75" 

Edition of 60

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