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ANGELA PERKO, Cats Cradle, 2021 for ANGELA PERKO: The Place of Hidden Things article in Santa Barbara Newspress by Marilyn McMahon

In her newest body of work, Angela Perko continues to weave mytho-historical themes and iconography together with brilliant color and intricate design.

The artist’s recurring interest in how women are represented is rendered especially vivid in 10-by-10 inch oil paintings showcasing a female fertility figure from a different historical culture. A few of these are from the ancient Mexican village of Tlatilco (1200 to 200 BC), which means “The Place of Hidden Things.” And that’s the title of Ms. Perko’s ninth exhibition on view through Sept. 26 at Sullivan Goss: An American Gallery.

“And there are many hidden things in Angela’s paintings — things that are partially buried or veiled by leaves, things that are both plainly significant and yet somehow inscrutable,” said Susan Bush, curator of contemporary art at the Santa Barbara gallery, 11 E. Anapamu St.

In her new catalog, the artist writes that her paintings and icons are “an attempt to make sense of the long history of human joy and suffering. Often they start with an interesting visual, a poem or a piece of literature. Then the idea grows, like a vine stretching out its tendrils, creeping into different worlds and times. There is perhaps a story hidden within each painting, about things like love and death, faith and redemption.”

Writing about her suite of 17 fertility figures, Ms. Perko explains, “The idea to paint a series was inspired in part by Kehinde Wiley’s “Equestrian Portrait of Prince Tommaso of Savoy-Carignan.’ I admired the painting when it was displayed at our local (Santa Barbara) museum.

“For me, it seemed that Wiley was attempting to visually fill a gaping hole in our mythology in a most grand and dramatic fashion . . . The little women are not grand, but together they tell an absolutely essential human story.”

Conceived as an enlarged exhibition catalog for the current exhibition, the slender volume contains all 17 of the artist’s female fertility icons and all of the symbolist/allegorical works  from “The Place of Hidden Things.”

“It also traces the roots of these works all the way back to 2007 with important works from all of the major exhibitions in between surveyed as full-page images,” said Ms. Bush.

“Ms. Perko has been represented by Sullivan Goss since 2005. Although she took plein air painting lessons from Michael Drury and continues to do figurative drawing in a classroom setting, she is essentially self-taught. 

“She and her husband own the Lost Horizon bookstore in Montecito, where she is exposed to an almost endless stream of ideas for her work.”

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