In 1978, inspired by the image-making processes of video technology in which he'd immersed himself as a pioneering producer of underground television in New York, Anton Perich developed a colossal electric painting machine, a painterly precursor to the inkjet printers of today.
Executing paintings line by line, in a process that would become familiar with the advent of inkjet printers, the painting machine enabled Perich to find his own electric brushstroke, even as it ostensibly removed the artist's hand from production. Warhol recorded in his diary: They said Anton was home with his painting machine and I was so jealous. My dream. To have a machine that could paint while you are away. But they said he had to be there while it painted because (laughs) it clogs up. Isn't that funny?
Perich's experimentation led him to create large-scale paintings, some that reproduced his iconic photographic images and some that were abstractions, electric noise, painting fields of color and lines fed by him into the machine. While his portraits reveal the ghost of an image, his uncropped abstract canvasses shift the focus of attention from the rich finished surfaces to the edges of the painting where the picture-writing process is laid bare. Machines are made to be perfect. In mechanically or electronically created contemporary artworks glitch/mistake/imperfection is often re-introduced into the outcome as if to humanize the tool. Perich calibrates his machine paintings, though, to be just precise and perfect enough to capture the essence of the image and the process.
The early paintings were made on raw canvas with acrylic or oil paint. In some places the paint gently permeates the canvas; in others the layers of paint have built up to a rich, voluptuous, and intense surface.
Recent paintings are often painted on fully or partially gessoed canvas, which keeps the paint on the surface. Sometimes coalescing into low-res images, sometimes dissolving into abstraction, Perich's surfaces always revel in their own materiality, as layers of paints of differing consistencies variously build up, drip and run. A sophisticated colorist when called for, Perich also references the visual intensity of his photography by narrowing his palette to the greyscale spectrum.
About Anton Perich
Croatian American, b. 1945, Dubrovnik, Croatia, based in New York, NY, United States