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Jeff Perrott, La Vie Éternelle

Morgan Lehman Gallery
535 West 22nd Street, 6th floor, 212-268-6699
September 14 - October 21, 2006
Reception: Thursday, September 14, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

La Vie Éternelle continues Perrott’s investigation into the nature of art and experience through diverse media and conceptual approaches. Geometric and figurative oil paintings, a video-based environmental sculpture, silk-screened mirrored Plexiglas panels, simple charcoal drawings, a stereo sound work, small cast glass sculptures, and vinyl wallpaper all move towards developing an enveloping experience of Perrott’s vision of eternal life, or, as he says, “the constant life and death of moments, ideas, objects.”

The title itself is drawn from a religious pamphlet found by chance and transformed by the artist through collage. This `altered readymade’ moment best captures not only Perrott’s art making methodology but also his subject. “An idea comes up and I work with it. It suggests a form and a method and I follow. These works are always about the moments themselves, about the nature of experience. That’s what draws me to them.” Like objects in a Vanitas still life, Perrott’s works evoke their own fleeting and momentary quality, pushing viewers to consider their own material nature as well.

In La Vie Éternelle, the artist pushes his unique approach further, in an adventurous conceptual play on death and renewal. In the video piece End, Perrott and collaborating artist Douglas Wethersby ceremoniously destroy and transform nearly a ton of the artist’s early paintings and sculptures. “The point was not denying the past, but embracing it by transforming it lovingly, now,” says the artist. The resulting video-and-detritus sculpture is a surprisingly humorous, fragile, and nostalgic counterpoint to the artists’ violent process of creation.

Conversely, at the other end of the artist’s practice, three sets of delicate, glass crystal casts of the artist’s teeth, in varying states of decay, evoke a haunting sense of life’s fragility. In several oil paintings on birch panels, the artist explores formal variations of converging perspectival shapes that suggest speed, movement, and bursting – a perceptual experience of now drawn through a rich, painterly infusion of color.

Test Pattern, by contrast, is a wallpaper work nearly covering the gallery’s entire length, based on a transfigured image of a nuclear test – a backdrop for the show, and, as the artist says “a backdrop for contemporary consciousness.” Staring down these works from the gallery’s front interior is Heaven, a wall work comprised of silk-screened fluorescent yellow stripes on mirrored Plexiglas, a negotiation, according to the artist, “between whatever’s happening in the gallery and the rigid, formal autonomy of the stripe.”

Interwoven into this axis of works is a densely layered sound work, John Henry, based on a field recoding of the artist running at varying paces on a treadmill—a further metaphor for the Vanitas struggle against time and material fact.
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