Galería Atotonilco Presents Internationally Acclaimed Artist Gustavo Pérez
By Susan Page
Gustavo Pérez is an internationally celebrated and admired Mexican ceramic artist. He has been honored in prestigious international venues as the guest lecturer for the Hermes Foundation lecture series in Paris; at the International Ceramics Biannale in Andenne, Belgium; and at the National Conference on Education in the Ceramic Arts in Rhode Island, to name just a few examples.
Opening of Gustavo Pérez Exhibition
One-man Show: Works by Gustavo Pérez
Sat and Sun, Jan 9 and 10, Noon to 5pm
Directions to the gallery in our ad in this issue
His work is exhibited in fine galleries in Tokyo, Paris, London, New York, and Los Angeles. He is represented here in San Miguel de Allende by Galería Atotonilco. Gallery owner Mayer Shacter, himself a former ceramic artist, is honored to be among those selected by Pérez to represent his work. We have an extraordinary opportunity to view a large selection of Perez’s work here in San Miguel.
One of the finest exhibition spaces in all of Mexico, San Idelfonso in Mexico City, is planning a retrospective exhibition in 2016, presenting works from Pérez’s entire career.
The exhibition will include vessels, wall pieces, drawings, and architectural works. Those pieces will not be available for purchase, but the works here in San Miguel will be.
Clearly, Gustavo Pérez has transformed ceramics into a fine art. Throughout his long career, he has continued to explore and push the boundaries of his medium. His work is a magnet; it draws people in.
Opening of Exhibition
The gala opening of Perez’s San Miguel show will be Saturday and Sunday, January 9 and 10, from noon to 5pm both days. Pérez himself will be present at the opening. The show will run through April 2016. Directions to the gallery are in the Galeria Atotonilco ad in this issue and on our web site: www.folkartsanmiguel.com.
Interview with Pérez
Gustavo Pérez grew up in Mexico City. Before he discovered his passion for clay, he studied engineering, mathematics, and philosophy, never feeling fully satisfied or engaged. He says his chance encounter with clay in 1971 felt to him like his soul’s homecoming, and he has been single-mindedly devoted to creating art ever since. He has lived for several years each in Japan, Holland, and the south of France, and has maintained his studio near Xalapa in the state of Veracruz for more than thirty years.
Mayer Shacter recently traveled to Gustavo Pérez’s studio near Xalapa, to select works for this exhibition and to interview Pérez.
Mayer Shacter: I can see a variety of influences in your work, including British and Scandinavian pottery, and a Japanese aesthetic. How is your work connected to or influenced by Mexico?
Gustavo Pérez: I don’t know what my influences are, and I don’t care about this. We live in a small world; we are connected to everywhere these days. It’s impossible to isolate the origin of ideas. My work comes from inside me and from my hands. My inspiration comes while I am working, while I am engaged in the process of creating.
I don’t follow what’s going on in the world of ceramics. My only other passions are classical music and literature. If I have any time not working, I want to read literature. But I crave time to work. I don’t have wine in the studio. This takes up too much time. I love working! I do enjoy people, but I enjoy clay so much more. My clay is my life.
MS: You have lived in Holland, France, and Japan. Do you speak all those languages?
GP: Yes, and from Dutch, it’s easy to pick up German. French is important. If you don’t speak French, it is difficult to drink wine or taste cheese. There is a cultural connection between wine and the people who produce it. French descriptions of wine are not translatable.
MS: How does your work evolve? Are you conscious about moving on to a new series of work, or do you just work and then discover that you have a new series?
GP: Everything I make is easy. It flows. For nature, a flower is easy. It looks complex, but it’s what nature does. My work is about the capacity of my hands to make something.
I do work in series. It takes time for one idea to evolve. Not every piece will be perfect, but you have to make them all to get to the brilliant one. You never know which one is going to be the great one. It’s never the first one, and it’s never the last one. In the beginning, you are trying too hard, and the first piece you make will necessarily be limited because ideas build on themselves. And in the end, you’ve mastered too much. It’s in the middle that the magic happens, and the piece is just right! After that, it’s too good, so it’s not good enough.