Pejac is a contemporary pioneer. Painting for freedom, equality and environmental consciousness, his powerful image-making gently subverts reality, forcing us to question our perception of the world and the most vital issues of our time.
Pejac’s practice is a series of provocative interventions into reality. As an artist with a remarkably prolific output, his evocative works have an unprecedented international following and can be found in galleries, on streets, boats and jails worldwide. Pejac’s murals simultaneously disrupt and absorb their surroundings, cleverly integrating intimate public spaces, surreal images and pressing social, environmental and political issues. Each work holds a rich and thoughtful metaphor: a world map draining into sewage, silhouettes of children setting herds of miniature humans on fire, or sinuous flocks of birds and paper aeroplanes exercising the freedom of flight. With a predominantly monochrome palette, his illusionary murals use the technique trompe l’oeil to imbue hyperreal flat images with the appearance of three dimensional structure. Thus, Pejac subverts the contexts and surfaces that he works on both in form and content: a side-step into a parallel reality that unveils the fragile absurdities of the initial reality we call our own.
Allegories throughout Pejac’s practice share powerful ideas that encompass personalised and shared existence. His works on paper, canvas and chipboard are conceived with astute emotional sensitivity and executed with compelling, almost Classical, precision. Apnea is a graphite, conte and charcoal drawing on paper which depicts a human figure floating, falling or swimming through a surge of black, grey and white towards a life-ring. The title of the work – a medical term for a suspension of breath – speaks to a frozen moment in time where salvation and annihilation are equally plausible: while the life-ring appears to be sinking faster than the human can catch up, the swift, upward motion that engulfs the scene provides some hope that the lurching body will reach rescue. Offering a precarious and uncertain symbol of humankind’s relationship to the planet, Apnea is both chilling and optimistic, a fatal warning that comes with the possibility of deliverance.
Beyond delivering allegorical meaning and raising awareness of critical issues, the process of Pejac’s work enacts the messages it conveys. As well as regularly raising money for environmental organisations, Pejac engages directly with people who have been marginalised across the globe. In 2016, he visited Al-Azraq Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan. There, he painted a series of intimate works that combined the sharp simplicity of his signature silhouettes with loose representational brushwork that recalls great Impressionists like Morisot and Monet. In 2019, Gold Mine took the artist to Santoña near his hometown of Santander, where he worked with inmates at El Dueso Prison. The abrasive prison architecture provided a brutal but poetic backdrop for a bird flying into an illusionary passage, a peeling basketball ring revealing gold beneath, and a tree made up of hundreds of tallies representative of the prisoners counting the days until their release. The sharp and empathic consciousness that underpins Pejac’s practice functions in the same way as political direct action, ensuring that artistic outcomes are not only about something but do something, engaging with the lived experiences of people who are disproportionately affected by the issues the work critiques. Through subverting realities and an incredible talent for harnessing the power of drawing and paint to its most compelling and moving potential, Pejac is an incredible international force both in the gallery and the world beyond.