Don Perlis: New York Now at Denise Bibro Fine Art

The Architecture of Tomorrow Douglas Turner Don Perlis Denise Bibro Fine Art Art News Art Criticism Art Review New York City

Just as this year’s art fair week was kicking off I met up with Don Perlis at Denise Bibro’s gallery in Chelsea to visit his solo exhibition New York Now, and lunch afterwards. I would almost like to set this piece to jazz music.

Cover Photo: Times Square 3, 2015 Oil on canvas

Don has this smooth and upbeat rhythm about him. A tempo that feels real and speaks to you; one that creates a sense of trust in following the artist’s lead. If I spied him across a busy Avenue, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him bopping along snapping his fingers. Fortunately for us, this persona translates into his work beautifully. Somewhere between a Modernist and a Realist, Perlis paints New York City landscapes as it really were.

The Architecture of Tomorrow Douglas Turner Don Perlis Denise Bibro Fine Art Art News Art Criticism Art Review New York City

Subway/Dancers | 2014-2015 | oil on canvas | 46″ x 34″

Said to be in the tradition of Ashcan painters, his pictorial visions and even-tempo capture energized moments in Times Square with memorable characters like Elmo and Batman, even a big headed Donald Trump, along with tourists doing as one is supposed to do in Times Square of Bloomberg legacy. And on subway platforms and in cars, straphangers and performers in mundane, climactic and anticlimactic moments. Not frozen in time, because there, in realist treatment, what he is capturing with an honest eye is going down right now as you read this piece—he brings these crazy moments to a tempo we can trust.

Artist Talk March 16 6:30-8:00pm

Denise Bibro Fine Art 529 West 20th Street, #4W

Join Don Perlis and David Carbone, writer for such publications such as Modern Painters and Art Critical and an Associate Professor of Drawing and Painting at the University of Albany.

Don Perlis’s Modernist flair to the Ashcan tradition places further emphasis on the people in the city. Lest we be lost in a time of those who have and have not, and the cultural dissonance affecting us all, as the facade of perfection runs amuck in every neighborhood and borough. Preferring to work with live models and not photographs, Don’s paintings amidst this upheaval, slow it all down to joyous and humorous moments and everyday happenings.

The Architecture of Tomorrow Douglas Turner Don Perlis Denise Bibro Fine Art Art News Art Criticism Art Review New York City

Subway/Dancers | 2014-2015 | oil on canvas | 46″ x 34″

Yet amidst the colorful hues of red, blue and yellow are sharp commentaries that Donald Kuspit brilliantly highlights in his essay included in Don’s latest printed catalog “Don Perlis New York Now”:

In Union Square/Windmill four young black men, all in tee shirts and red caps, and two young white women and one young white man wearing an overcoat and carrying a briefcase, stand in a community around the young black man performing his act on the ground, but it is a temporary community implicitly divided by race and class conflict. They will all go their separate ways after the performance that unites them.*

The Architecture of Tomorrow Douglas Turner Don Perlis Denise Bibro Fine Art Art News Art Criticism Art Review New York City

UnionSquare/Windmill | 2014-2015 | oil on canvas | 48″ x 41″

Mr. Perlis is a master who skillfully builds up his scenes capturing the subtleties of a constantly jiving and colliding New York City. In Times Square 2, probably a tourist toasts his American bottle of Coca-Cola in the air, red Elmo takes a photo of an adult woman posing with blue Elmo, newscasts, and car ads blare on giant screens, but the realist thing going on in this scene is the guy dressed as Batman, out of character, walking past the American flag with a slightly slumped, end-of-the-work-day worn out expression.  

The Architecture of Tomorrow Douglas Turner Don Perlis Denise Bibro Fine Art Art News Art Criticism Art Review New York City

Times Square 2 | 2015 | Oil on canvas | 60″ x 48″

Don Perlis beautifully portrays a very American urban landscape as only a painter of his caliber, who perhaps should be hanging side by side with Edward Hopper at the Whitney, can do. His paintings jump from the canvas with great enthusiasm, decoding our enigmatic private affairs in the public sphere. 

The Architecture of Tomorrow Douglas Turner Don Perlis Denise Bibro Fine Art Art News Art Criticism Art Review New York City

Times Square 3 | 2015 | oil on canvas | 31″ x 42″
*”The City Above Ground and Below Ground: Don Perlis’s New York Paintings” by Donald Kuspit, Don Perlis New York Now
All images courtesy of the artist.