Developing Dichotomies into Balance

Professor Juan Perdiguero Black and white. Animalistic and humanistic. Public and private. Technique and passion. Professor Juan Perdiguero has manipulated opposing elements into a harmonious and satisfying life as an artist and a teacher.

Using only paper towels, cotton swabs and his hands, he draws large-scale, lifelike images of mostly dogs and monkeys by wiping away black etching ink from non-absorbent, luminscent photographic paper—a technique he spent 20 years perfecting.

“I wanted to bring together painting, drawing and photography,” says Madrid native Perdiguero. “I wanted to create a process and an image that was very hybrid—a combination of different approaches. I am fascinated by how the combination of dark and light works to generate form. I wanted to create an image that was very photo-realistic from a distance, but generated completely by hand.”

The result is a 12-hour process that generates intense images meant to spur the viewer into thinking about their conflicting human and animalistic nature. “A mind game,” he says.

He describes his passion for teaching and creating art as showcasing two distinctly different sides of his own nature. “Making art is a very intimate and personal thing,” he says. “It nurtures the relationship I have with myself.”

When he teaches, he says he has to dissect his private art-making moments into teachable lessons that help students develop their own ideas that connect to technical art processes.

“I’m very shy, but when I’m in front of the classroom, suddenly something happens and I just open up, all my energy flows, I start talking a lot and engaging with my students,” he says. “It’s very satisfying when you see that the students synthesize all the information and create art that is personal and unique to them.”

“I have great balance in my life,” he says.

—Margaret Spillett

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