Artist Spotlight: Tony "Pronzy" Perez

Tony Perez’s artwork incorporates imagery, poetry and sound, meant to overwhelm and enthrall the viewer’s senses. Perez was born in Boston, MA and spent many of his formative years in Brockton, MA. The oldest of 14, Perez draws from his life experiences growing up as Afro-Latino. 

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While receiving his BFA in Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Tony felt restricted within the confines of traditional mediums. Focusing on his artist statement as a way to push the boundaries of agency, his ideas soon formed into contextual poems. Perez then began collaborating with his brother to create soundscapes to further influence the viewer's experience.

Starting each work with a poem that captivates the human experience, Perez matches the essence of the poem with that of a person in his life. By creating the poem first, he is focusing on substance of the story rather than the physical outcome. Perez makes it known, “I am really process oriented so I live a very, ‘process before aesthetic’ lifestyle.” For Perez, it feels more authentic that way.

After completing the poem, Perez writes an abstract composition for what eventually becomes the soundscape, which he and his brother fine tune throughout the artistic process. He then begins creating the imagery for the portrait. First, Perez creates mass values by using graphite powder and sponge brushes on paper. He then brings out highlights and darken shadows using electric erasers and ebony pencils. The final outcome of his drawings remains true to his model, he places heavy emphasis on capturing their energy.

Tony "Pronzy" Perez, "Rebecca," 32 x 23.5 in. Graphite on paper

Tony "Pronzy" Perez, "Rebecca," 32 x 23.5 in. Graphite on paper

His artwork seeks to offer opportunities for the viewers to explore and converse on the complex relationships between the African, Indigenous, and European diasporas. Placing the viewer in an immersive artistic experience, Perez strives to create an environment that starts conversation about complexities within issues. His work acts as a catalyst for discussions around police brutality, rape culture, racism both internal and institutional, the importance of present parenthood and various forms of systemic oppression.

The people in Perez’s life play a major role in his motivations, influence, and his ability to work as an artist. Some of his favorite artistic inspirations come more in the form of movements rather than specific people, for this reason Hip-hop, Jazz, and Blues are key informers to his work. When asked to pick his top five individual artists to credit with inspiration, he cites Kanye West for vision innovation and craft, Kendrick Lamar for lyrical potency, Stephen Hamilton for cultural and social reflection, his brother Joshua Jackson (AKA Leo the Kind) for his collaborative nature and willingness for self-exploration and improvement, the fifth place he keeps reserved for future inspiration.

Tony Perez’s artwork, Rasheed, will be on view during The Salon Show through January 28, 2018.

Press Release: The Salon Show

December 8, 2017 - January 28, 2018
Opening Reception: December 8th, 5 - 8 pm

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Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to present The Salon Show, an annual group exhibition curated to showcase strong new pieces by its represented artists, as well as introduce high quality work by emerging artists. Featuring mostly local artists, The Salon Show seeks to open dialogue within the Boston arts, focusing on work that presents an interesting process or concept. The artists featured represent many different mediums and disciplines, and come together to form a full picture of the rich variety in contemporary art today.

Elisa Adams’ stone sculpture is about the paths in life. The twists and turns life offers us, represented in the openings and curves in the sculptures, take the viewer on a journey. To sense ease and flow is essential in her art, with the hope to rest the mind from external stressors. A chance for some breathing room to recalibrate and feel peace, quiet and connection again. 

Ariel Basson Freiberg’s paintings are intense, acidic statements about female sexuality that offer the viewer temptation and denial in a single image. Freiberg’s women emerge from a saturated background in undeniably erotic poses, but with all of the key information concealed with thick smears of paint: faces, genitals, anything that might expose her subjects. Born in Texas of Iraqi/Israeli background, has a MFA in painting from Boston University and a BA from Smith College.

Anna Schuleit Haber features work from The Voice Imitator series, an ongoing series of 104 paintings. The series is a collaborative project by artist Anna Schuleit Haber and composer Yotam Haber. Yotam and Anna discovered that they shared a fascination for the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard: the sweep and focus of his narratives, the stark voices of his characters, his mastery of seemingly effortless perspective changes within his stories, and his interest in everyday situations that often end in the absurd. Schuleit Haber was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in 2006.

Holly Harrison is a mixed media artist whose collages use a variety of techniques to explore the juxtaposition of layering, poetic thought lines, subtle textures and attention to detail. In her new series, Harrison explores the relationships between forms, color, texture rather than referencing images. She uses diverse materials including painting, photography, paper ephemera, fiberglass screen, her daughter’s drawings and handwriting samples, and pieces of her husband’s discarded paintings, which she weaves together in a slow accumulation of layers.

Left: Marie Najera, Over the Waves Right: Lavaughan Jenkins, Untitled 1-3

Left: Marie Najera, Over the Waves Right: Lavaughan Jenkins, Untitled 1-3

Lavaughan Jenkins - A prequel to his 3-D paintings, Jenkins employs traditional methods to build layer after layer of vibrant brushstrokes until his paintings come off the canvas. His figures are inspired by Francisco Goya’s painting, Third of May 1808, and the Kerry James Marshall exhibition at the Met Breuer in 2016-2017. Jenkins has a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and has participated in the Yale University Norfolk Residency Program.

Kristina McComb’s practice intersects photography and sculpture and focuses on the impact of time when selecting materials and subjects. For McComb, time stands as a dichotomy as it represents both death and life, it naturally, slowly and steadily destroys but also gives life. No part of life is untouched by times impact.  McComb’s newest lightbox series, Two Sides of Self #1, is inspired by her own life experiences. She aims to blend the place she grew up in Western Massachusetts and her new home of Boston. She received her BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.

Marie Najera combines different styles and techniques to depict a shifting netherworld beyond her canvas in abstract paintings that show the constant change the artist’s inner life undergoes in the process of painting, each layer imparting a singular aspect of her psyche. Najera works without any preconceived notions about the finished piece, applying her mixed media materials freely. Najera lives and works in San Diego, California.

Victoria V. Nunley’s artwork explores the experience of transitioning from girl to woman. While in this prolonged identity limbo, her subjects are desperately searching for answers on how to successfully perform womanhood, consistently confused by what is real and what is a media construct. Nunley’s subjects are frequently engaging in gossip, conforming to social pressures, and outwardly expressing their emotions. Nunley says “The characters in my work, like real teenagers, are completely sincere no matter how exaggerated their emotions appear to be. Looking at this work, one might laugh at the triviality of the event at hand; however we have hindsight and they do not.” Nunley will receive her MFA from Boston University in 2018.

Nicole Patel’s artwork is at once minimal and nuanced. Her geometric grids explore elements of drawing and design through textile. She winds a single thread in muted colors across the clean, off-white surface of each piece, rooted with precisely placed nails on the back of the canvas. She works with only organic, sustainable medium. Patel sees the full potential of raw materials, without the irreversible alterations of cutting, coloring, and marking. Her pieces can all be disassembled and reassembled limitlessly. The resulting work is a meticulous arrangement of line and space. 

Tony Perez’s drawings incorporate imagery, poetry and sound. His artwork seeks to offer opportunities for the viewers to explore and converse on the complex relationships between the African, Indigenous and European diasporas. Placing the viewer in an immersive artistic experience, Perez strives to create an environment that starts conversation about complexities within issues. He hopes to begin discussions around police brutality, rape culture, racism both internal and institutional, the importance of preset parenthood and various forms of systemic oppression. Perez received his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2017.

Julia S. Powell’s oil paintings, teeming with lively brushstrokes and mottled with vibrant color, depict scenes that can’t be found anywhere on Earth, but carry the essence of the natural world within them. By contemporizing landscape painting, Powell brings the subject of nature into modern appreciation, creating a connection between the viewer and nature that can’t be accessed through any other perspective.

Natalia Wróbel’s pieces reference ancient architecture, elements from nature, and neural networks to elicit imagined, meditative pseudo-landscapes. By weaving in subtle hatch-work of marks in complementary colors, more chartreuse greens and yellows, and a few thicker paint applications of the palest pink, Wróbel’s allows her artwork to evolve from her surroundings. She currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

Museum Review: Takashi Murakami at the MFA Boston

Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami has brought a splash of color and a lot of attention to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston recently with the exhibit Lineage of Eccentrics, A Collaboration with Nobuo Tsuji. Professor Nobuo Tsuji assumed the role of mentor and teacher to Murakami in 2009, an act that would allow the artist to engage with historical Japanese art and expand his knowledge in the traditional art forms. The exhibit has taken Murakami’s explosive, vibrant artworks and paired them with pieces from the museum’s extensive collection of Japanese art, creating a conversation between past and present. The near sensory overload is on par with the New York Times description of the artist, “Takashi Murakami rocketed to international fame in the art world for his Pop Japanese anime-inspired characters and motifs that proliferate playfully and menacingly across paintings, sculptures and a line of commercial products.” With fifty of Murakami’s works on display paired with a matching number of carefully curated Japanese works, the museum visitors undergo a unique viewing experience.

Left: Takashi Murakami, And then, and then and then and then and then / Green Truth, 2006 Right: Takashi Murakami, And then, and then and then and then and then / Original Blue, 2006

Left: Takashi Murakami, And then, and then and then and then and then / Green Truth, 2006
Right: Takashi Murakami, And then, and then and then and then and then / Original Blue, 2006

Walking into the gallery, visitors are greeted by Transcendent Attacking a Whirlwind, a colossal new work by Murakami illustrating an oversized sea serpent surrounded by curling waves and a background of tessellating pattern. Murakami’s new work was inspired by the six-panel folding screen of the same title, created by Soga Shohaku in 1764 which is now in MFA’s Collection. These pieces act as a perfect introduction to the marriage that Senior Curator of Japanese Art, Anne Nishimura Morse, and Japanese Art Historian, Nobuo Tsuji, have cultivated between pop-art and traditional Japanese artwork. The contrast between Murakami’s contemporary artworks against the beautiful scrolls and images of centuries past simultaneously charm the viewer and display the lasting effect that traditional Japanese culture has had on the present.

The exhibition is organized into six thematic sections, beginning with the exploration of Murakami’s coined term of “Superflat”. Murakami’s Superflat Manifesto, 2000, articulates his artistic approach in which he drastically compresses the space between three dimensional objects and metaphorically flattens distinctions between “high art” and “low art”. The other five galleries are organized based on Tsuji’s principles of Japanese art history: animation, kazari (ornamentation), asobi (playfulness), religiosity and eccentricity.

Detail of: Takashi Murakami, Dragon in Clouds — Red Mutation, 2010

Detail of: Takashi Murakami, Dragon in Clouds — Red Mutation, 2010

One of the most memorable pieces in the show is Dragon in Clouds—Red Mutation, a twelve foot by fifty-nine foot painting that Murakami created in just twenty-four hours. The gigantic painting came to be in 2010, after Tsuji challenge Murakami to paint his own work without the help of any of his studio assistants. After putting himself on a twenty-four hour time limit, and pulling inspiration from Soga Shohaku’s 1763 thirty five foot long Dragon and Clouds, Murakami worked for an entire day. The final product was the massive and powerful acrylic on canvas artwork. 

With the show being so bright and colorful, it easily lends itself to social sharing, making it a popular backdrop to countless Instagram photos. In the room housing Kawaii – vacances (Summer Vacation in the Kingdom of the Golden), visitors can be found going as far as laying on the ground to capture the psychedelic effect the happy flowers and metallic finish. With a guiding phrase on the wall reading: “If you don't share a photo from this exhibition, did you really visit? Share your #mfaMurakami photos with @mfaBoston.” A controversial statement that has received varied feedback, raising the topic of how institutions should be using social media to handle self-promotion through art. The phrase certainly questions the intentions of the exhibition; whether to grab the attention of snap-happy social sharers or start a cultural conversation about Japanese art past and present – and which is more important to the museum.

Overall, it is a strong exhibition and we recommend seeing in person. Be sure to bring a friend so you have someone to take your Instagram photo…

Detail of: Takashi Murakami, Kawaii-Vacances (Summer Vacation in the Kingdom of the Golden),  2008.

Detail of: Takashi Murakami, Kawaii-Vacances (Summer Vacation in the Kingdom of the Golden),  2008.

The Contemporary Curator

As defined by the dictionary, a curator is, “a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.” In the contemporary art world however, we take a different perspective on the roles and responsibilities that this job entails. As described by David Guerra, Director of AREA Gallery and our March 2016 curator of Dualisms, “A curator is a selector and a facilitator, but most importantly, is a connected author of critical narratives that creates social and cultural value.”

Installation View: The Awakening, November 2017

Installation View: The Awakening, November 2017

At Abigail Ogilvy gallery, owner and director Abigail Ogilvy Ryan and Assistant Director, Allyson Boli, typically take on the curatorial role, discovering new artwork that has yet to be exhibited and discussed in the Boston area. We seek out new points of view through guest curators, such as David Guerra (Dualisms), Meredyth Hyatt Moses (An Eclectic View), and Todd Pavlisko (Fuse). This coming February 2018, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is inviting curators, artists, and collectives to offer a new vision for our gallery, a crucial part of cultivating diverse perspectives in contemporary art.

Whether in a large museum or a small gallery, four things are crucial to the curatorial profession today: the preserving, selecting, connecting, and arranging of art. Every exhibition is more than just the artwork on a wall—it is a long and detailed process.

Preserving: An exhibition is usually based on a theme or topic. It is imperative that a curator chooses work that follows a central theme or starts a conversation with the viewer in some capacity. It is also important that the curator preserves the tradition and concept of the art. The challenge lies in showcasing the work to its fullest potential without glossing over the artist’s inscribed value. Whether a large group show, or a specific thematic exhibition, the curator should preserve the meaning of the artwork and ensure visitors can interact within the dialogue of the show.

Selecting: Once the theme or concept is established, the next step of a curator’s job is selecting the work. The curator can spends weeks, months, or even years during this phase of curation. They will contact artists and galleries, diligently visiting their studios or finding ways to view the work in person. This step includes immense research and discovery in order to learn about each artist’s background and portfolio. When the curator feels they have the right artists for their particular exhibition, they will begin discussions around getting the work to the exhibition space.

Connecting: Connecting the work to the art historical canon is another crucial element of curation. As the definition of contemporary art continues to expand, we must remember that all art is in some way a response to what came before it. The context of a piece must always be considered when building an exhibition. Once that connection is established, the curator will need to find a way to express this vision to visitors in the space.

Arranging: The final part of a curator’s job is to determine how the art they have selected will be arranged and displayed. Keeping the previous elements in mind, the curator must now utilize their own creativity in order to stay true to their theme and enable the art and the environment to become a cohesive experience and form a story. While many of us are used to the “white cube” model of experiencing an exhibition, there are hundreds of ways to display artwork in any given space.

Click to apply for February 2018 Curatorial Role