Walnut Veneer Relief Drawings: Building a New Series, A Look at Neal Perbix’s Latest Edition

Artists, Bicycle Fine Art, Feature Article

Bicycle Fine Art is pleased to present a beautiful, new and exclusive, limited edition of relief drawings made from walnut veneer wood by Minneapolis artist Neal Perbix. The relief drawings, like the rest of Neal’s art work, incorporate the mundane materials he encounters during his day job as a remodeler, that he miraculously transforms into sophisticated, monumental pieces. Pushing himself to greater and greater challenges, he uses demanding tools with an adept hand, tackling unpredictability in his process while producing entirely polished, precise creations. This purposeful tomfoolery leaves you guessing “how did he do that?” With the veneer pieces, and other more recent series, he explores new possibilities in this daring balance between chaos and perfection, drawing together years of experimentation with different techniques that have been under development in works throughout his artistic career.

Bicycle Fine Art - Neal Perbix

Neal Perbix
Untitled, 2017
Walnut Veneer Drawing mounted on 4-ply acid free rag mat
Custom maple wood frame available in black satin or white wash finish
Limited Edition of 10
Framed: 35.75 x 25.75 in.
This Limited Edition is being sold exclusively through Bicycle Fine Art.

Neal’s artistic process doesn’t take place in the studio, it’s more of a mental process that springs from his professional career. Neal graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BFA in sculpture and furniture design, and has worked as an art handler in high profile galleries. Now, as a contractor, he is constantly in contact with building materials, and whether he is renovating a kitchen, tiling a floor, or building furniture, his mind is on how he can incorporate those tools into his art. Neal notes, “I’m in the trade and I’ve always been interested in more industrial ways of the process.” This is not to say that he isn’t focused on his work –he has developed an adroit hand and it is his high attention to detail professionally that translates to his personal compositions. Neal says, “As a builder, I aim for precision. I take a great deal of pride in that. But I also work against that idea.” Neal’s work is finished, sheer, smooth, very close to utter perfection in his clean lines and calculated markings. However, Neal works with materials and tools that tend toward chaos, and he relishes the prospect of glossing over the chaotic power of a table saw or a laser.

Neal Perbix
Untitled Diptych, 2015
Tape drawing on 4ply archival rag paper mounted on Masonite and bass wood
Each panel: 48 x 48 in.
Display Dimensions: 48 x 98 in.

Each new project Neal takes on builds off of the last, as he challenges himself to work with more complicated materials. He began the arc of his artistic career with his renowned industrial tape drawings, the pieces that launched the circling style so prevalent in his practice. The loops refer to the monotonous images, meaningless conversations, and general online inanity that a person encounters every day. “The circling is the mundane, that we all feel,” says Neal. “At the end of the day I’m left with this numb meaningless attitude to all I just did…Maybe [it is] a way to document the mundane passing of time.”

NP.19 & NP.18

Two original sumi paintings on linen and canvas, [NP.19 & NP.18] by Bicycle Fine Art artist Neal Perbix, featured at DIFFA’S 20th Annual DINING BY DESIGN as part of the 200LEX NEW YORK DESIGN CENTER room presented by FAIR and Brad Ford ID March 2017.

From these works sprung the sumi ink pieces, meditative bullseye studies of acrylic, ink, and water color. The process mimics the zen buddhist daily circle “enso” drawings, a discipline-based creative practice which frees the mind through the uninhibited expression of the body. The sumi ink is viscous, which makes the pieces long lasting, yet the immediacy of the work is created in an “americanized” way. Neal’s table saw drawings too, that use the saw blade as a paintbrush of sorts, are reminiscent of ageless and contemplative Japanese ink wash drawings. Neal says, “coming from a technical background…still not being able to really truly abandon it, but not trying to pigeonhole it or coddle it. Ultimately it has to evolve and these [works] are all the little transitions that are the latest versions or episodes. These have been the last couple versions of that process.”

Neal Perbix
Untitled (Set of 8), 2014
Table saw drawing series: gesso on masonite
Dimensions: 20 x 20 in. each

Neal Perbix’s ‘Untitled Diptych‘ was selected by 1stdibs at the New York Design Center to be featured for the Seventh Annual, ‘What’s New, What’s Next‘ at 200LEX in the lounge styled by, acclaimed Designer, Anthony Barzilay Freund, September 2015.

He hopes to bring all of the techniques together with the newer router drawings and veneer works. In these pieces, says Neal, “I was combining all of my processes that I’ve been working on.” The diptych drawings, which are inverse mirrors of one another, lie somewhere between printmaking and drawing. It is in these drawings, and new works like the walnut veneer relief drawings that Neal performs the careful push and pull in his practice: a veritable balancing act between turmoil and precision. In the diptychs, Neal developed his process of creating the positive inverse of his router pieces but hand cutting the positive relief from paper. The walnut veneer relief drawings, unlike past works, are monumental, etched forever on the smooth surface of the wood. They are precise and yet have an immediacy in their creation process, which comes from his use of laser cutting, where he is able to repeat the delicate webbing in the editions. They border on sculptural in their three dimensional feeling as their playful nature pushes beyond the two-dimensional surface.

Building off of his incredible foundation in furniture making and remodeling, Neal’s works have a monumental timelessness. They are statements in stateliness. True, they are meditative, but they have an agelessness in their precision and perfection, that shows the masterful hand of a reflective and expert in technique. The simplicity of the tones paired with the complexity of the process behind the work, leave a viewer forever contemplating how the piece, so neatly suspended, was made.  Works such as the Untitled walnut veneer drawing, which is currently on view at the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Ave., add a dignified touch to any space where they are hung.

Neal Perbix - Bicycle Fine Art Neal Perbix in front of one his tape drawings, commissioned for the Schmidt Artist Lofts, St. Paul, MN.
Untitled Triptych, 2014
Tape drawings on 3 panels.
Dimensions: 96 x 144 in.

Photo Credit: Graham Tolbert

All works for sale are available for viewing with Bicycle Fine Art at the New York Design Center by appointment.  To see more pieces by Neal Perbix, or to inquire about commissioning a custom piece, please contact:  info@bicyclefineart.com or call 347.405.8488

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Lisa-Thi Beskar, Art Advisor & Curator