Enoc Perez was born in San Juan in 1967 and received his first painting lessons at the age of eight. The son of an art critic, he spent his family holidays visiting museums in various countries and learning about art history. In 1986, Perez moved to New York to study painting at Pratt Institute before earning his master’s degree at Hunter College. Conflicted with the program at Hunter College, where students and faculty criticized his paintings as overly seductive and decorative, Perez held fast to his belief in the importance of aesthetics and the joy of art. Embracing art’s potential for pleasure and beauty, Perez paints sensual nudes, still lifes, tropical resorts, and modern architectural icons in a simple aesthetic with dazzling, vibrant colors.
He describes his inspiration for his paintings of architectural icons:
“In a sense, these architects really believed in the idea of utopia. There’s a real feeling of believing in these buildings, and when you look at contemporary architecture, that’s not so much the case. The fact that they come from a different era makes them nostalgic. I love painting, and I believe in painting, and I share that with these architects who believed in utopia. Many painters paint to question the medium, which might be perfect for them, but I am one of those who really believe in painting”.
Perez has lived in Midtown Manhattan since 1997 and is surrounded by the great skyscrapers and architecture of New York. Among other things, he has created series of the Seagram Building, the Eero-Saarinen TWA Terminal, the UN Building, and Lever House. In 2007 he exhibited a series of Lever House paintings in the lobby of this building. He is attracted not only by the optimism that went into the construction of these skyscrapers, but also by their now lost sense of power and permanence, which was affected by the tragedies of September 11 and the destruction of the World Trade Center.
For twenty years Perez worked in a technique related to the process of printmaking. Inspired by the influence of Andy Warhol and his silkscreens on the New York art scene, Perez developed his own innovative method that mimics the process of color printing. Perez worked with both reproductions and his own photographs, making separate preliminary drawings for each color he wanted in his finished painting. He applied oil paint to the back of each of these sheets and pressed it onto the canvas to transfer the color. In 2010 Perez decided to work with brushes again. Perez describes his change in process, he explains: “For years I didn’t use brushes in the making of my paintings, the new paintings are painted with brushes. I like the new work, the production has renewed itself. Sometimes you have to burn down your own house to create something new.”
Perez’s work can be found in the following collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; British Museum, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; New York Public Library; RISD Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University; The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College; Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles; Williams College Museum of Art; Queens Museum; University Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University; Art, Design, and Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara; Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Western Michigan University; Vera List Center, New School; and the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin.