Detail of The Beck House, 2017
Comerica Tower Dallas, 2017
JFK Memorial, 2017
Enoc Perez has only visited Dallas a handful of times, but he’s come to know the city well. The Puerto Rico-born artist, known for his paintings of modernist buildings, has spent the last two years focusing on Dallas’ architectural treasures. His upcoming show at the Dallas Contemporary, Liberty & Restraint examines the Texas-based work of renowned architect Philip Johnson. The exhibition is an artistic survey of some of the city’s most famous structures, but it goes deeper than that.
“To me, [architecture] talks about who the people are that inhabit the places or make the places. It’s a reflection of our own humanity in a way,” Perez says.
The artist removes the monuments from their places in reality and depicts them as art objects, using a Warhol-esque paint layering technique to create a repetitive, iconic effect.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that Perez’s fascination with buildings borders on obsession.
“Warhol loved the Hollywood stars – I love buildings, you know, I love structures, and that’s why I paint them, really, out of admiration and love,” he says.
Perez has long admired the work of Johnson, so when he learned that he would have a show at the Dallas Contemporary, he leapt at the opportunity to highlight the architect’s influence on the area.
“You have an abundance of Philip Johnson architecture right there in your backyard, it’s actually kind of amazing. I thought it would be a good idea to point that out,” Perez says.
“Hopefully it makes people look at these things twice. You could be driving near a masterpiece everyday and not know it.”
Liberty & Restraint includes the depiction of and installation at eight buildings in Dallas and Fort Worth: The John F. Kennedy Memorial, Thanks-Giving Square, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Crescent, Cathedral of Hope, The Beck House, Fort Worth Water Gardens and Comerica Tower. Engaging in an artistic dialogue with these local landmarks has given Perez a special understanding of the city.
“They say that everything’s bigger in Texas right?” Perez says. “I get a feeling that that’s true. The buildings themselves are super ambitious. And in some cases, like the Chapel of Hope, very progressive and forward-looking. It tells me that Dallas as a city has this feeling of improving itself and looking towards the future.”
“Liberty & Restraint” at Dallas Contemporary, January 14 through March 4. 161 Glass Street, 214.821.2522; dallascontemporary.org.