Pedro Pérez’s Journey: A Unique Exhibition in Miami Design District

The Miami Design District is delighted to present a captivating exhibition showcasing the remarkable works of Pedro Pérez, a talented artist born in Cuba in 1951.

This exhibition, titled “Back the Same Day,” will feature an extensive collection of paintings, drawings, and wall reliefs spanning five decades of the artist’s illustrious career. Curated by Karen Grimson, Director of Cultural Programming at the Miami Design District, this exhibition will be on display from September 29 to November 26, marking the first comprehensive survey of Pérez’s work since 1997.

Early Inspiration and Artistic Roots

Pedro Pérez's Journey: A Unique Exhibition in Miami Design District

One of the earliest works featured in the exhibition is “Monsters That Will Prevent People Like Sydney Tillim from Becoming Famous Artists” (1976), generously loaned from the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale. This piece dates back to Pérez’s graduate years when he served as a studio assistant to the renowned Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan.

Inspired by the papier-mâché masks commonly seen in Cuban carnival festivities, this mural-sized canvas adorned with graffiti inscriptions cleverly satirizes Sydney Tillim’s ascent in the art world. It hints at the cynical undertones that would come to define Pérez’s entire body of work.

Exploring Masks and Marionettes

As Pérez’s career unfolded during the 1980s in New York, his fascination with masks, monsters, and marionettes deepened. Initially drawn to the thriving artistic scene of the city, Pérez’s enthusiasm gradually transformed into disillusionment with the art world, as powerfully expressed in “Hunk of Skin” (1989).

Pedro Pérez's Journey: A Unique Exhibition in Miami Design District

Rooted in traditional gilding and gesso techniques and featuring a reflective mirror, this wall assemblage invites viewers to perceive the art world as a theatrical production, implicating not only the system and its players but also the observers. As aptly described by John Yau, “the accusation points in two directions simultaneously: at the art world (its institutions of power and its bystanders) and at the artist and his work.”

The Significance of Time

“Hunk of Skin” introduced the recurring motif of the clock into Pérez’s body of work, symbolizing transformative duration. The frontispiece inscription, “Everything means something in time,” underscores the centrality of time in Pérez’s artistry. This lifelong preoccupation with time and a profound scepticism towards the art world’s idiosyncrasies converge in “Pérez’s Andy Warhol Cookie Jar Clocks” (1991).

Pedro Pérez's Journey: A Unique Exhibition in Miami Design District

This series of gold reliefs pays homage to the pop artist’s collection of vintage jars, which fetched record prices at auction following his passing. These figurative clocks firmly establish the concept of time as a powerful symbol in Pérez’s work.

“Pérez: Back the Same Day” presents a groundbreaking aspect of the artist’s career by debuting a series of drawings on drafting film developed since the mid-2000s. Each piece in the series bears a title corresponding to the date and time of its completion, often featuring multiple dates, revealing Pérez’s iterative approach to his creations.

This approach collapses multiple temporalities into each work, offering viewers a unique perspective on the passage of time. The entire series serves as an intricate atlas, cataloguing the days and hours experienced through the medium of drawing.

In conclusion, “Pedro Pérez: Back the Same Day” offers a compelling journey through the evolution of a Cuban artist who has left an indelible mark on the art world. Pérez’s exploration of masks, his critique of the art world’s theatrics, and his fascination with time create a rich tapestry of thought-provoking artistry that has been absent from the public eye for over two decades. This exhibition in the Miami Design District is a must-see for art enthusiasts seeking a deeper understanding of Pérez’s unique and captivating body of work.

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