An Artist Of The Portrait

Emma Brophy speaks to 'figurative virtuoso' Fabian Perez at the launch of his exhibition in Chiswick

The Lemongrove Gallery 255 Chiswick High Road W4 4PJ Telephone 020 8987 0400 Email

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Sultry, suggestive and sensual – I could be talking about the artist as much as his work.

I met Argentinean born ‘figurative virtuoso’ Fabian Perez this week when he came to Chiswick to launch his exhibition at The Lemongrove Gallery.

Born in Buenos Aires and raised in nearby Campana, Fabian showed creative flair from an early age. As a teenager he was fascinated with martial arts and fine arts and dedicated himself to the two disciplines.

Influenced by his artistic mother and somewhat clandestine father, Fabian was exposed to a colourful cast of characters that were part of the local night life. He left Argentina aged 22 to live in Italy which is where his career in painting and writing really took off.

From handsome men who lived their lives on the edge to women who, as he himself puts it, could seduce a man simply by lighting a cigarette. Add to this a world of sultry and glamorous tango dancers, flamenco guitarists and gypsy musicians, and Fabian’s paintings fall into context as atmospheric representations of forbidden sensuality and unnamed desires.

“It’s not about what I paint,” he explains simply, “It’s what I don’t paint that enables people to make up their own stories about my paintings. They are like a roadmap, a guide with many directions, where the viewers decide which path they wish to experience.”

One such painting is of a white haired man sitting alone at the bar. I had already heard three people’s versions of what they believed the painting was about and asked Fabian what his was. “It’s a self portrait,” was the unforeseen response. “It’s how I feel. I feel alone even when I am surrounded by people, not isolated, I like to be alone. And I feel old, not in a negative way but through my life experiences.”

Fabian doesn’t always give titles to his artwork because it could “repress the imagination.” Even when he does they are simple statements like ‘Red Hat’ or ‘Paola on Bed’.

What struck me most about Fabian was his quiet confidence and unassuming nature. Here was a world-renowned, accomplished artist, author and sculptor oozing charisma from every pore and yet was clearly enjoying the repartee and cheery champagne chatter of Chiswick locals. Even when he asked to sign the back of an original painting with the words “niza culo!” (nice arse!) he did so with a genuine smile.

Fabian does not like to categorise his work as he feels this limits the artist as well as the work. His bold imagery, which he likes to paint in acrylic “because it dries quickly and allows me to follow my impulses”, feels intensively passionate.

To experience the passion of Fabian’s work first hand visit Lemongrove Gallery on Chiswick High Road.

Emma Brophy


May 11, 2009