In his series, Untitled, Mike Perry continues his interest in found objects as a source of aesthetic contemplation and contemporary narrative. The source of his objects, however, is no longer the beaches of West Wales, where he collected and photographed toxic pieces of plastic for his series Môr Plastig (Plastic Sea). The overtly environmental narrative is replaced by a sense of calm and tranquility and instead the viewer is invited to respond to the highly detailed surfaces of mundane discarded materials he finds piling up around his home. Plastic pollution is replaced by packing foam and cardboard, an altogether more humble material, given a new lease of life by the world of online shopping and home deliveries. In his White/Brown Cardboard works the soft monochrome surfaces appear to float in the space they occupy giving them a strong sculptural presence. Perry is clearly interested in ideas relating to the hierarchy of materials and the belief that worn out everyday objects can have a strong aesthetic presence through the transformative effects of reflected light.
White Cardboard Box, 2018
Art Made Now, Gallery VIII, Royal Academy of Arts, 12 June – 19 August 2018
Perry’s one to one photogragh taken with soft ‘neutral’ daylight focuses our attention on the surface of cardboard and the subtle markings made by the pressing machines that turn out these boxes by the thousands. In White Cardboard Box, 2018, the vertical shadow line, created by the gap in the carboard flaps, entices the viewer to a glimpse of an empty interior and in some way echos the ideas developed by Lucio Fontana in the 1950’s. In his series Concetto Spaziale, Fontana made vertical cuts in white canvases in order to explore the relationship between surface and dimensionality. By slashing the canvas, Fontana re-energised a flat painted surface turning it into something sculptural. But in Perry’s case, the art is not gestural but in his choice of subject and the forensic way in which he takes the photograph. His approach remains resolutely open and ambiguous allowing the viewer to either feel a sense of the sublime or be left staring into a black void wondering what all the fuss is about.