Oliver Perkins

The artist’s over­ar­ch­ing prac­tice is wit­nessed when his di­verse works are seen in con­cert, says Fran­cis McWhan­nell.

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The work of Oliver Perkins is the prod­uct of vo­ra­cious look­ing, play­ful ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, and rig­or­ous edit­ing. His sources are di­verse. He mines the his­to­ries of art, ar­chi­tec­ture, and de­sign – now play­ing on the more re­strained monochrome paint­ings of Robert Ry­man, now the tubu­lar bal­cony rails of 1990s apart­ment build­ings in Ali­cante, Spain (un­til re­cently the artist’s home). His cho­sen me­dia are sim­i­larly eclec­tic, en­com­pass­ing not only traditional paint­ing ma­te­ri­als, such as can­vas and rab­bit-skin glue, but also more ev­ery­day sub­stances, such as wood dow­elling and enamel house paints. His works are ob­jects as much as im­ages, draw­ing at­ten­tion not only to their own se­duc­tive ma­te­ri­al­ity, but also to the sen­sual qual­i­ties of the myr­iad painted ob­jects that sur­round us. Considered in­di­vid­u­ally, his works – whether stri­dent or subtle in their coloura­tion, ro­bust or frag­ile in their phys­i­cal­ity – tend to ap­pear sta­ble and self-con­tained. Seen in con­cert, however, it becomes ap­par­ent that they are nodes in a com­plex and vi­tal sys­tem that is the artist’s over­ar­ch­ing prac­tice. Each paint­ing de­rives from and gen­er­ates an­other. The con­nec­tions be­tween works are of­ten subtle, the shifts in­cre­men­tal. The same ba­sic in­gre­di­ents are re­de­ployed to star­tlingly dif­fer­ent ef­fect. Three pieces of dow­elling, for in­stance, may be used to sug­gest a top-heavy ar­chi­trave form, the stretcher of a paint­ing, or a fat­tened sketch of a build­ing. Im­mac­u­lately crafted and im­me­di­ately lovely, Perkins’ paint­ings are es­says in the rich po­ten­tial la­tent in the out­wardly sim­ple.


1, 2 and 3. Un­ti­tled works by Oliver Perkins. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Sam Hart­nett, cour­tesy of the artist and Hop­kin­son Moss­man. 3


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