Marcia Wood Gallery is delighted to present a solo exhibition by the popular Atlanta based artist Joseph Peragine. This will be the artist's third exhibition with Marcia Wood Gallery and his fifth in Atlanta. Peragine's subject matter ranges from the animal kingdom to detective novels to tanks to wrestlers, and his media includes painting, drawing, sculpture, animation and site specific installations. Peragine's public art installation of red ants in Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is a favorite of millions of travelers.
Throughout his varied subject matter, Peragine explores questions of strength and vulnerability, power and impotence. Since 2010 much of Peragine’s studio practice has revolved around an interest in the cultural and environmental aspects of natural history dioramas and taxidermy. In his prior exhibition “Little Creatures” he mined the great natural history dioramas made in the 1920-40's, when the animals and environments were already in peril, often from excessive hunting. Believing the animals would be gone in twenty-five years, the goal was to get their skins before the animals went extinct - perversely ensuring their destruction.
With the current exhibition, “After the Hunt”, Peragine continues to explore the socio-political aspects of hunting and privilege with a body of work that draws inspiration from Flemish Still Life and Early Renaissance Painting and Medieval Tapestries. In the history of art After the Hunt paintings are a sub-genre of still life painting depicting dead game and animals. Popular among wealthy patrons, these paintings celebrate the bounty of a successful hunt. Given that hunting (and art collecting) was an aristocratic privilege, these paintings spoke as much about position and prerogative as they did about nature. The current exhibition has two parts. The foyer is transformed into a small gallery housing a series of game still life paintings. Inside the gallery the exhibition changes tone. The mood is lighter. The paintings and animation are lush with vegetation and whimsical. The paintings in the main gallery are a departure literally and metaphorically from the work in the foyer. Inspired by medieval tapestries and early renaissance painting, the paintings in the main gallery are whimsical and pulsing with life. These paintings point to an afterlife where everything is ok. Regarding the wonderfully engaging painted repetitive pattern backgrounds in the work in the main gallery, Peragine comments “I spent time in The Uffizi this past summer. One aspect of early renaissance painting that I found inspiring was the use of repeating decorative elements in the backgrounds of the large figurative paintings. Foreshortening and the use of linear perspective are employed to render figures and architecture. However, where there is decoration or repeating elements the paintings flatten out. Take Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus for example. The figures are painted in the round and are in landscape that has a clear foreground, middle and background, yet all the elements such as the flowers and rippling water are painted the same scale. It functions as wall paper and creates a visual tension. We expect the elements to diminish is size as the move away from our point of view. When they don’t, it creates an unreal quality.”
Joseph Peragine's work has been presented in galleries, contemporary art spaces, and museums throughout the country and internationally. The scope of Peragine's multi-disciplinary practice encompasses public art projects and commissions, including exhibitions at Art in General in New York City, Islip Museum of Art, West Islip, NY, Sunken Garden Park, Atlanta, and the permanent installation for the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, Atlanta, for which he was also awarded an Atlanta Urban Design Commission Award of Excellence for Public Art, as well as being noted one of the best public art projects in 2001 in Art in America. In 2001 Peragine was invited to exhibit his work and participate in an international symposium on art and science in Beijing, China, hosted by Tsing Hua University and the National Museum of Fine Art of China. Peragine's animations have been exhibited at the Palm Beach ICA, Florida, the Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN, MOCA GA, Atlanta, GA, DiverseWorks, Houston, TX and the Arizona State University Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival, among others. His paintings, drawings and sculpture have been exhibited in galleries including Solomon Projects, Atlanta, Atlelie397, Sao Paulo, Brazil, David J. Spencer Museum at the CDC, Atlanta, Agnes Scott College, Dalton Gallery, Decautur, GA, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL, the UA Museum of Art, and Kress Gallery, Tucson, AZ, and the Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.
Peragine was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1961. He completed his undergraduate work in fine art at the University of Georgia, Athens, and in 1995 received his MFA in painting from Georgia State University, Atlanta, where he is currently an Associate Professor in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking. He recently completed a prestigious five year studio residency at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.