Interview with Pedro Perelman

We spoke with Pedro Perelman ahead of his new exhibition “Origen”, which opens Friday September 30th in UNION Gallery. In a collection which includes over 15 original paintings and wood sculpture, the artist transcends the diversities and ethnicities of the characters that typify his work, in order to investigate his origins as an artist.


Origen is the title of this exhibition because, beyond the features, ethnicities and diversities of people, and the situations that make up my own universe, it’s really about a personal search for my origin as an artist. Origin and the desire to paint meld together for me. The origin and the path of the visual artistic flow that discovers forms and changes, that lack an academic framework, and instead become part of history purely through work and effort.

I never studied drawing or art and I think that not having the baggage that comes along with an academic background has helped me to lighten up when I’m in the process of producing work. My studies in design gave me plenty of tools to work with which I used later on in painting, but my involvement with art came mostly thanks to my father, who comes from an artistic background and surrounded me with visual stimulus, friends’ artist studios, museums, paper and pencils.

Mala Mía
“Mala Mía” / Acrylic on canvas / 50 x 40cm / 2016

I created my first murals in the public space during a really complex time in the country, that I lived through with a lot of anxiety. Even if this isn’t reflected explicitly in my work, it is manifested in the very attitude inherent in the act of going out to paint, as if the context was a trigger, or the initiator of a kind of chain reaction. But my reaction was from an almost optimistic frame of mind. I sought out the impact of color and forms as a remedy for the rawness of the gray.

Art is and will always be a disposable good, and in a country with continuous crisis and instability, the effect in this arena is immediately evident. I also think that the art scene needs to be updated; we need new visions for new times, new ways of handling artwork, projects, and institutional support. The scene is in need of a more broad legitimization. On the other hand, there are plenty of local artists who are very well positioned on a global level, and that’s entirely thanks to their own merit.

Pedro, Pol, MrL_2016_Barracas
Mural in Barracas, Buenos Aires / Pedro, Pol, MrL / 2016

As time goes by I’ve discovered various different artistic styles, but I’m restless and I find myself in constant search of another, or believing that I have none at all. I’ve matured in my way of looking at and thinking about art and with the passage of time I’ve seen that from my classic, graphic beginnings, in which the pictorial aspect was almost completely absent, I became friendly with light, shadow and details, while I also began to combine techniques. I explored from the most synthetic elements to the figurative, and utilized a combination of resources from design.

The context drastically changes the form and length of production time of an artwork. In the studio the time-frame is different; there are no fixed hours, and no influence from weather or other external factors. When you paint in the street there’s adrenaline that comes with scale, people, reactions, commentary, and physical work. In that context there’s a better optimization of time. From the perspective of technical and concrete aspects of the work, however, the processes of each space are quite similar.

La Piel de la Historia_ph- Martin Tibabuzo
“Piel de la Historia” / Barracas, Buenos Aires / Ph: Martin Tibabuzo

2016 has been a very productive and intense year and I’m very focused on the project Ruta de Murales. Together with Poeta and Lion, we’ve painted in many different provinces across Argentina, given workshops, and generally exchanged knowledge with a lot of people. It’s been a fantastic experience together with Montana and Sinteplast, and it’s headed for a second chapter in the South of the country starting in October.

Mural in Santiago del Estero / Ruta de Murales / 2016
Pedro, Poeta, Lion / Ruta de Murales / Buenos Aires / 2016

I really enjoy teaching, and my years at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) have helped me a lot. For example, my previous experience teaching has definitely influenced the development of the workshops we’re doing as part of Ruta de Murales. It’s very gratifying for me to transmit enthusiasm and strength, and no matter the context, I always end up feeling like I am the one who’s really learning. Beyond the roles you have to play, large groups guarantee a lot of ideas and energy.

In my life music and painting feed into one another constantly: I think about sounds and I hear colors, and I think that the compositional criteria and creative processes of both worlds are quite similar. Together with a couple of musician and artist friends we have formed Kermesse, and this year we’re travelling to Mexico to present our new live electronic music (house) show. At the same time I think that they’re social universes which are very different but which create a healthy balance for me: music and painting are like night and day.