Angela Perko is fascinated by precious objects, and her recent series of paintings focuses on ancient female fertility figures. Perko’s paintings are always packed with quiet symbolism and deep layers of meaning; and while her new works acknowledge that women have been constantly reproduced as objects over time—from Paleolithic venus figurines to plastic Barbie dolls—the females showcased here were revered as powerful fertility symbols. At the same time, Perko has juxtaposed these symbols with carefully chosen background visuals that resonate with present day concerns, a dialogue-sparking device inspired by artist Kehinde Wiley’s dramatic Equestrian Portrait of Prince Tommaso of Savoy-Carignan (2015) displayed at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Perko’s striking portrait of a prehistoric Japanese Dogū figurine, which floats on a background of bright red polka dots, is a direct reference to feminist artist Yayoi Kusama of Japan—known internationally for her commandingly beautiful and obsessive installations—who frequently employs a similar polka dot pattern in her art. Using a 10-by-10-inch square format, Perko’s exquisite figurine paintings are small but mighty. They are on view, along with other works by the artist, July 29 through September 26 at Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery. Don’t miss the opening August 4 (5 to 8 pm). 11 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, 805-730-1460; sullivangoss.com.