Luciano Perna was born In Naples and spent part of his youth in Caracas, Venezuela. Following in the footsteps of his father who was a keen amateur photographer,he began to take photographs at the age of 14 and learned to develop them in a home darkroom. In 1979, he moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in the photography department at CalArts. His presence in the Los Angeles art scene of the late 1970s shaped Perna as an artist and made him take part in activities and performances of artists such as John Baldessari, Michael Asher and many others. He was also strongly influenced by the 1960s Italian Arte Povera movement. Alongside his photography, he engaged in constructing conceptual, playful sculptures from everyday objects. Luciano Perna passed away abruptly in December 2021 in Los Angeles at the age of 63.
During the early lockdown of 2020, Perna started to photograph plants and simple objects from around his house against a black background and posted these elegant still-lives on social media. In a restrained but striking way, they reflected the feelings of fear, vulnerability and seclusion that the corona crisis aroused in most of us. According to the critic and art historian Benjamin Buchloh, Perna, in these photographs “seems to have grasped the paradox that the still life’s ancient mnemonic power of a sudden arrest of time might nowadays find its optimal place and distribution form in the perpetually restless cycles of asocial digitality”*. Perna himself said about his work in general that he wanted movement between immediate recognizability and something more elusive; that to him it was a matter of not discriminating or discriminating very finely.
A series in the format of inkjet prints were displayed in 2021 in Paris at the Marian Goodman Librairie.
Luciano Perna exhibited at galleries and museums around the world including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA; the List Visual Art Center at MIT, Cambridge, MA; the Dia Art Foundation, New York, NY and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
*BUCHLOH, Benjamin, Pandemic Flowers, in Artforum, October – November 2020.