Meeting Sophie Perez for the first time, there is no doubt she lives and breathes her work. Hands covered in paint, warm and inviting, you can’t help but immediately be charmed by her quick smile and cheeky laugh.
Sophie’s passion is painting landscapes. ‘Through colour and composition I hope to explore the endless possibilities that paint can create… I attempt to create a new way of looking at a familiar landscape’ she shares. ‘I love the freedom and freshness paint can bring to a landscape I have visited over and over again.’
The Peninsula-based painter is a devoted advocate of artist-managed spaces. Working at Southern Buoy Studios, she loves being able to provide a space to engage with the community, and to encourage and challenge perceptions of the arts.
Sophie’s own paintings have also featured in another well known artist-run gallery, Flinders-based, Cook Street Collective. ‘I was approached by the owner not long after my family and I had moved over to the Peninsula. I loved the location and the variety of talented painters, makers, sculptor and jewelers that also are part of the collective,’ she explains.
The artist is overjoyed to have her art practice growing in profile, with works exhibited in a number of different galleries across Australia over the past few years, including Moree Gallery, Purplenoon Gallery and Studio Direct at Michael Reid Murrurundi, curated by Amber Creswell Bell. ‘I was keen to see how my predominately Peninsula-based oil landscapes would be received in parts of Australia with a very different audience’ the artist enthuses.
When asked what inspires her work, Sophie reflects on the vast, interwoven sources of inspiration. ‘I see my craft as life, and life my practice. The every day of my surroundings inform my ideas and painting,’ she tells, highlighting artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, Pierre Bonnard and Andre Derain as key sources of inspiration. ‘Today, I find inspiration through artists I have found on Instagram such as Richard Claremont, Elizabeth Barnett, Johnny Kovacevic and Jane Guthleben.’ Sophie is also a huge fan of Maria Stoljar’s podcast, Talking With Painters, through which she has been introduced to ‘so many painters I relate to and somehow validate how I think about my own practice’ – recent interviews with Neil Frazer and Luke Scibberas are not-to-be-missed!
In the age of vast influences and opportunities for comparison (constructive or otherwise), what does success look like for this working artist? ‘Success is a funny one and so subjective. Of course, being able to make a career of doing something I love is fantastic. But knowing my paintings relate to people, and invite them into the space I have created through paint is very rewarding,’ she explains.
She is also eternally grateful for the ‘game-changer’ that is social media. ‘In 2003, freshly graduated from the RCA MA, I had a very limited website and no other social media. The process of traipsing around and approaching galleries with slides and a physical portfolio was hard work, and only really allowed you to connect to a very limited audience,’ she recalls. ‘I feel Instagram has been the most influential platform for my growth.’
You can connect with Sophie Perez on that very platform @sophieperezartist, or view all of her current works at sophieperezartist.com.