Robert Percy
(b. 1949, Buffalo, NY)


In 1993, the surreal figures and spaces Robert Percy was composing and painting for 20 years were replaced by free floating spontaneous marks and directional lines. In the summer of 1996, he studied Chinese painting and calligraphy in Hangzhou China. There, he discovered that the soft brush, lacquer-free ink, handmade paper and table top method of painting best suited his mark and line paintings. Ink on paper allows no hesitation when painting and no painting over “mistakes, and he found this intensity a very focusing discipline. In addition, the manner in which the kozo paper takes and holds the sumi-e ink is immediate and strong.


In 2004, he travelled to southern and central Japan to visit washi (hand made paper) studios. The variety and refined quality of paper was astonishing and inspiring. Since then, Percy has been working on the paper itself before any marks are painted. He will often drench the paper in clear water and this will leave unique and subtle wrinkles. He then embosses the paper with found objects, adding another layer of raised marks. Using a flat brush and soft, gentle brush strokes of sumi-e ink reveals the water and embossed traces. He uses the thinnest possible paper, appling paint to the back and expecting it to soak through to the face of the painting. Turning the paper over for the first time can be a thrilling surprise and a delight.


Since his first original drawing in 1973 all of his work has used vertical, horizontal, angular and/or circular lines as both compositional elements and as the content meaning. By using directional lines he risks giving the paintings the look of textile design. But textile design is about appearances only, decorative only, and therefore is without the meaning content of his paintings.