November 30, 2010

DJ Perera, "ELIDARAWWA " at EASTONE Gallery

Review by Gail Victoria Braddock Quagliata

DJ Perera, Exhibition View of ELIDARAWWA.
The profusion of dynamic color and shape presently holding court in EastOne gallery is the creation of Pratt first year MFA painting candidate DJ Perera. These 5 pieces comprise the strongest selections (by the artist’s own appraisal) of nearly a dozen pieces Perera has completed in the shocking brevity of one semester, though the degree of compositional/formal involvement and ascertainable aesthetic intent would imply far longer than a few hurried months juggled in between other classes.

“They display what I believe to be the most conclusive discoveries in establishing a solid unity between the formal elements of painting. In these works I look at varying aesthetics, sizes, compositions, all of which exhibit strong harmoniously uniformed surfaces,” states the artist of his magnetic display of color and form.

Perera’s atypical artistic background perhaps lends an added degree of complexity to these somewhat intentionally uniform, thus impenetrable, works of art. Though he completed his BFA with honors at what sounds like the most Mom, apple pie, and American flag-waving of institutions, Texas Christian University, Perera is a Sri Lankan citizen who was raised in the Middle East, and states that he never acquired a truly comprehensive art education per se, something that so many emerging artists take for granted, especially those of us in a program at a vaunted American fine arts institution like Pratt.

“Since I'd never been exposed to the history of art in this country or in Europe prior to my arrival to America, I was never really influenced by artists when it came to producing my own aesthetic. I was truly painting for myself and no one else - what I felt, what I thought was honest,” says Perera. This is remarkable to consider when viewing the paintings on view in EastOne, that these pieces come essentially from years of instinct and a 5-year crash course in Western aesthetic practices. Perera admits to developing a deeper affinity for different aspects of several seminal abstract modern artists - Sean Scully, Jackson Pollack, Barnett Newman, and Ad Reinhardt.

DJ Perera, Siniduhaha, 2010
Reinhardt’s “boldness,” the facet to which Perera is most drawn, is a clear influence in this work. Perera’s color choices are decisive and unapologetic. There are clear formal parallels here to Newman, though that intangible quality that Perera finds peaceful in the abstract expressionist’s color fields, one might readily find dynamic and tense in Perera’s hand.

Perera speaks about his work as something of an ongoing exploration, aware that he is a student in spite of having exhibited numerous times before this, his 3rd solo show. The artist’s drive, both to improve his method of working and progress in a measured, logical fashion is as clear as the forms he paints.
“To ultimately create art work that is visually free of thought and effort yet contains energy, thoughtfulness and honesty is my ambition.” Perera is well on his way.

This exhibition is part of the Student Exhibition Spaces Program coordinated by the Center for Career and Professional Development at Pratt Institute.  All current students can submit work for inclusion in future exhibitions by emailing for more information.

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