FRANK PERNA at Zsa Zsa Gallery (962 Queen West), September 2-16, reception tonight (Thursday, September 2) at 6 pm, artist's talk Saturday (September 4) at 2 pm. 416-537-3814. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Every weekday from 9 to 5, wild parties take place on the trading floors of stock exchanges around the world. Greed and the erratic activity that it produces in the traders has them crawling all over each other as if their lives depended on it.
This activity is the subject of Frank Perna 's new show at Zsa Zsa Gallery . Painting with oil on 30-by-40-centimetre pieces of hardboard, Perna captures the motions of day traders as they buy and sell little pieces of big companies. He paints the very gestures that enable the free movement of capital. Perna chose to focus on the blur when he discovered that journalistic photos of trading floors almost always capture a volley of activity. His technique of painting blurred motion from photographs brings to mind the work of Gerhard Richter, but he diverges from Richter by making movement his primary subject.
Perna's good with his brush, but it's his inspiration to paint the abstract imagery in a frozen moment that makes his work interesting.
He paints talking heads, moving hands and people tightly packed together. Sometimes he completely reproduces a found image, but the best work zooms right into the photo, filling the painting with pure motion. He captures an appealing sense of the activity without entirely revealing what we're looking at.
Painting traders is funny, and finding abstract imagery in press photos is intriguing, but depicting the vast global economic system as a hazy series of intimate gestures is what makes the show quite clever.
Oh, the beauty of greed.