In her third solo exhibition with Callan Contemporary, “It Was Such a Beautiful Promise,” internationally acclaimed artist Sibylle Peretti reflects on our complex relationships with nature and the universal questions of meaning and longing. As pictorial and symbolically charged thematic motifs, pearls and strands of luxuriant beads recur throughout this new series of kiln-formed glass and acrylic panels. For centuries, pearls have embodied an intrinsic longing for shared values, cherished and passed on from generation to generation. “There is a connection to the promise of hope, healing, and resolution seen in these pearls,” Peretti observes. “They’re seductive and beautiful and symbolize something you deeply desire. You may find it, you may not; it all depends on your own perception.” Peretti frames these allegories as visual vignettes that unite landscape with narrative. Animals with symbiotic relationships with human beings, such as hawks, foxes, and coyotes, appear in enigmatic scenes, collecting pearls with which to perhaps adorn themselves, build their nests, or through simple fascination share an intrinsic desire for beauty. Children—another motif Peretti has revisited throughout her career—figure prominently in the imagery, conveying a sense of tenderness and wonder, blurring boundaries between innocence and experience, vulnerability and strength.
Originally from Bavaria, Peretti trained as a glass designer at the State School for Glass-making in Zwiesel, Germany. Afterwards she earned an M.F.A. in painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cologne. Her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and wall-based works figure in significant corporate and private collections around the world, as well as in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA), Museum of American Glass (Milleville, NJ), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec, Canada), The Hunter Museum of American Art (Chattanooga, TN), The Speed Museum (Louisville, KY),and The Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH) among others. Her work will be seen in two upcoming solo exhibitions at The Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA) and The Huntsville Museum of Art.
Peretti began many of the pieces in the current exhibition during her recent residency at Bullseye Glass in Portland, Oregon, where she worked with a unique type of glass that shifts color depending on the character and directionality of natural and studio light. It is a striking effect, which heightens the otherworldliness of her tableaux. “I try to encourage people to find an entrance to my subject matter through the beauty of the materials,” she explains—and indeed, the process she deploys invites us to envision what she calls “magical matter”: silvered and formed opalescent glass, gold leaf, original photography, and painted and carved plexiglass panels. A hushed, fairytale-like atmosphere extends across these visionary artworks: a dream-like stillness where introspection and the present commingle and where, one senses, anything can happen.
by Richard Speer