Oliver Perkins’ exhibition, Swelter House, is considered an extension of his major solo show A kind of an arrow, which ran at the Dunedin Public art Gallery from 28 May to 16 October this year. Perkins has recently produced large and dramatic wall works, painting directly on the gallery walls as a means of creating a conversation between the physical spaces and the much smaller works on canvas. For the DPAG show, he created a massive blue and orange painting titled FREE-RANGE on the big wall in the gallery foyer. In Swelter House, he has painted Resene Fire red and California yellow on the front face of the main wall (which separates the two gallery spaces) and Fire red and Goblin green on the back. The result is spectacular and immediate; the intensely saturated colours creating a powerful and alluring presence for anyone entering the gallery.
When working in his studio, Perkins’ process is one of construction and deconstruction, of digestion and assemblage, and of always considering the core components of what constitutes a painting: canvas, stretcher and pigment. His procedure is physical, often involving pushing and pulling, cleaning and rubbing, spraying and cutting. He is best known for his insert paintings, where a (usually) smaller stretched canvas is coerced inside a larger one through slices he has made in the fabric.
Christchurch born, and now based in Lyttelton, Perkins studied at the Christchurch School of Art and Design from 2000 – 2003, before heading overseas where he achieved an MA at the Chelsea School of Art in London. A particularly influential period in his practice came from living in Spain from 2015 – 17, where both the architecture and the vibrant colours are noticeably evident in his current work.