Sarah Kent, Time Out April 26 - May 3 2006
Dan Perfect's new paintings are pure pleasure. Weird heads and horned masks jostle for space in a field of painterly flourishes and vigorous marks. There's so much going on in each picture that they're almost impossible to describe. My notes for 'Masks' read: 'yellow profile head and black mask with white stripes; layers, splashes, salmon pink and lilac blotches, looping lines making pretzel-like squiggles and wobbly grids in black overlaid with pink'. The painting is based on two pastel and ink drawings that were scanned into a computer and superimposed; no wonder things get complicated. Two drawings are included in the show; more like spontaneous doodles and scribbles than premeditated designs, they are little powerhouses of exuberant energy. Enlarged many times over and traced on to canvas, they seem to be peopled by an exotic rabble of cartoon drop-outs and imaginary hybrids. 'Antelope Canyon' has the Wild West feel of a landscape dominated by giant cacti; 'Unusual Life' is like a jungle scene; and the inhabitants of 'Hung Out' look decidedly the worse for wear -dim-witted, spaced out or simply plastered. Perfect explains that, having studied printmaking, he approaches painting like a printmaker - building the image up in layers from a white ground and masking out some areas while working on others. This explains why his characters seem to be free-floating in ambiguous, almost virtual spaces with zero gravity. Everything works from the back forwards, from the first to the last or topmost layer; so there's no horizon line - only fluid, non-differentiated space. But it doesn't account for the wonderful sense of euphoria emanating from the pictures. You can tell that making them was fun. The spontaneity of the drawings hasn't been lost in translation; the variety of marks and uses of paint - from loose to tightly controlled, and from watery washes to juicy gestures and energetic flurries -communicates sensuous delight in the process of picture-making.