Sueno Perros: Images by Juan Perdiguero
September 19–November 1, 2003

Sueños Perros, new mixed media works by Juan Perdiguero. This exhibition of work, created during a 4 week Art Works! artists’ residency funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“In art alone it still happens that man, consumed by his wishes, produces something similar to the gratification of these wishes, and this playing, thanks to artistic illusion, calls forth effects as if it were something real."1

“The dream can, without being untrue to its nature, appear confused and incoherent; but on the other hand it can also imitate the order of impressions of an experience, infer one occurrence from another, and refer one part of its contents to another. The dream succeeds so completely that an absurdity or a gap in the structure does not appear somewhere.”2

Juan Perdiguero plays with his viewers in his new body of work titled Sueños Perros. The play is inherent not only in his aesthetic process, but also in his conceptual basis. He creates illusions through manifestations of dream imagery that are disturbing and unsettling. The viewer walks away from the work unnerved but astounded at the tenderness and care that was rendered in the process to produce its beauty.

The process in and of itself is a form of play on the part of the artist. Each portrait is derived from a photograph, which is then drawn onto mylar. A collage of flowers is placed over the drawing and then etching ink is applied to the entire surface, only to be removed later. It is a process that is constricted by time so that the ink will not dry. It is a process that demands much care and patience, but comes across as dark and at the same time beautiful. The imagery seems to jump off the walls and come to life as illusions, that may hint as something real, but simply remain illusions.

Perdiguero hypnotizes his viewer with the dynamic of each individual piece, which emanates a power that holds them there, captivated. One cannot simply pass by these psychological rupturing pieces, the viewer is held in place and forced to contemplate the meaning behind it. This compilation of work provides an insight into the artist’s compulsive neurosis and emotional attachment to his aesthetics and thought processes.
The dogs, as they are, jar the mind into a contemplation of what they are supposed to be saying. Is it that Perdiguero dreams of monster like dogs and now is demonstrating symptoms of a particular obsession? Do the dogs themselves represent a form of repression in his unconscious that is now manifesting itself in his artistic endeavors? Or is it possible that the use of this imagery is just another form of play that Perdiguero is using to engage his audience?

The point of these works is to play with the viewer’s psyche and emotions. The individual looks and is shaken at the core by these larger than life canines. Yet they hold a beauty in them, which endears the viewer to each piece. Whatever the emotion the viewer experiences, he or she is compelled to sit with each piece. Perdiguero’s work acts in a manner that does not only project his own psychological anxieties, but forces the viewer to confront their own and allows them to project these thoughts onto his pieces.
He plays with the viewer and plays with himself, not allowing his own repression to surface completely, but allows the viewers thoughts and dreams to return. The work then becomes not about him and his specific emotions, but instead is his own game that creates rupture with the viewer. That is not to say the Perdiguero is not present in the work. His game is his representation of his neurosis and evidence of his rupturing. His repression surfaces in the rendering of each piece and the joy he experiences while playing with the audience.

The other dimension of Perdiguero’s work is that of the dream itself, from which the title is derived, Sueños Perros, loosely translated as Dream Dogs. They are not ordinary dreams, but dreams that bring forth disturbing images of the unconscious. Freud defines dreams as being “psychical phenomena of complete validity-fulfillments of wishes; they can be inserted into the chain of intelligible waking mental acts; they are constructed by a highly complicated activity of the mind.”3 The dream inserts itself into the process that Perdiguero uses and replicates itself over and over, not only into this particular instance of dogs, but into his entire body of work that is also a product of his aesthetic process. They are dreams that resonate over and over, becoming symptoms of his emotions. Still these dreams become part of the reciprocating play that is occurring in Perdiguero’s work.

Whether it is psychological rupture, play, emotion or dream, Juan Perdiguero accomplishes the almost impossible task that artists often face. That is to say, that he brings together strong conceptual ideas, that evoke an emotional response, coupled with aesthetic quality. While the dream aspect can be incoherent and confused, the work’s clarity resides in its beauty its coherent facade, forged through theory and technique, leaving the viewers with an experience that will continue to resonate within them.

Nicole M. Jowsey
Independent Writer and Critic

Juan Perdiguero was born in Madrid , Spain, in 1963. He completed a B.F.A. in Art Conservation and Painting at Universidad Complutense of Madrid. He went on to complete his M.F.A in Painting at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1992. That same year he completed his Doctoral Studies in Fine Arts at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid.

Juan has exhibited his work in various galleries throughout Spain and the U.S. He has shown at the Albright-Knox Gallery, Burchfield Art Center and Big Orbit Gallery in Buffalo, NY, as well as Exit Art/The First World, the Alternative Museum, Franklin Funance and the Eighth Floor in New York City. His work is featured in various gallery and private collections. Juan is an Assistant Professor of Drawing at the State University of New York at Oswego and lectures about his work in Spain and the U.S.