From an early age, Justin was fascinated with how the world was constructed. His father, Harry Perlman, was a self-taught architect, mechanic, and artist, and much of Justin’s curiosity came from him. The most important lesson from his father was to honor craftsmanship and beauty above all.
The pursuit of various artistic processes has taken Justin on diverse roads. From his studies in anthropology at Hampshire College, he journeyed on to taking sculpture classes at the Art Students League of NY. From there he flew to Pietrasanta, Italy, to study for a year with master artisans and sculptors in marble carving. Seeking a detailed and complex education in sculpture, Justin returned to the U.S. to apprentice as a master chaser at a bronze foundry, where he learned about all facets of the fine art casting process. Currently, he lives in Bethel and works in Ridgefield.
The masks and other metal details in his recent work are fashioned with a technique called “repoussé”. One of the oldest metal working techniques, it was traditionally used for the decoration of metal vessels made from copper, or other malleable metal.
Justin sees art not just as a language, with seemingly infinite dialects, and a vocabulary of form and color, but also as the tools and materials that form that vocabulary. The techniques forged over countless experiments do not bind us but give us an incalculably large set of phrases to be arranged and rearranged.
He has increasingly been working with the juxtaposition of two phases representing conflict: there is the conflict of materials, representing the difference between our hard (exterior) and our soft (interior) selves; there is the conflict of figurative abstraction in stone versus the highly detailed faces in metal (again invoking the idea of something primal, or natural, versus something manufactured); there is the conflict of color used to the same affect; and finally there is often conflict in the actual subject of the piece.
"We are all in some state of conflict, be it actual warfare, or day-to-day emotional conflict. It is often the interior conflict that gets played out on the larger stage, and there, unrestrained, gains mass. Privately we seek intimacy yet publicly we celebrate grandiosity; however, we have not yet resolved the two desires. One’s experience becomes another's allegory; and the artist plays a role in that transformation. There are many artists reveling in their public selves, but I find at this moment that I am speaking to our private selves, before the curtain rises; a voice diminished in the square but immutable."
images and content © 2021 Justin Perlman