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.
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.
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.