Various Small Fires proudly presents The Turquoise Room, an exhibition of new drawings by Alina Perez. This is the artist’s first presentation with the gallery and first time to exhibit in Texas. In this body of work, Perez depicts a series of dreamlike tableaux that delicately unfolds as an inquisition into one’s relationship with the world around us. What happens when our physical surroundings begin to reflect our emotional states? We interact with places and things daily that can offer a sense of comfort or belonging, but they can also echo our fears and anxieties.
In these drawings, Perez seeks to reconcile one’s own inner dialogue with that which is outside of ourselves. They utilize the color teal as a point of departure: the color of their childhood bedroom and a hue that has reappeared frequently in recent years. Its presence sparks a chain of memories and emotions for the artist, akin to deja vu. The color has come to be a recurring theme in their life, and one that reinforces a belief that we are in constant collaboration with our surroundings.
Two figures in The rain was pouring in on us (2023) lie down in a moody blue room with a window through which a downpour of rain is visible. One of the figures gazes intently into the distance while insects and plant life sprout around them, as if their own thoughts began to manifest themselves physically amongst the room’s cast shadows. A young figure in Eye of her storm (2023) peers through a shell on the beach, making use of the natural world to perceive her environment in a new way. Children often process the world in this way, but Perez insists the same curiosity can be translated into adulthood.
A nude semblance of the artist reclines in a turquoise room in Daytime (2023), one of the exhibition’s largest drawings. They balance a conch shell on their knee and lift up a hummingbird feeder while gazing out at the viewer. There’s an air of confidence in their vulnerability, as if they know their naked body is just one puzzle piece of nature. Perez asks, “In what ways are we looking at ourselves when we look at the world?”
–Alina Perez (b. Miami, Florida) received their BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and their MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art. Perez was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2017, and has attended residencies at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, the OxBow School of Art in Michigan, and the Vermont Studio Center. Their work has been exhibited at the Taubman Museum of Art, Virginia; Atlanta Contemporary, Georgia; Arcadia Missa, London; Rachel Uffner, New York; Company Gallery, New York; M+B, Los Angeles; and Deli Gallery, New York.