A Matter of Art - 405 Magazine

A Matter of Art

Subatomic systems fascinate and inspire artist Bryon Perdue Jr.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

Subatomic systems fascinate and inspire artist Bryon Perdue Jr.

You may not spend much time pondering subatomic particles. However, artist Bryon Perdue Jr. does. His mixed-media creations — combining two-dimensional shapes, rigid lines and fluid colors — result from his ongoing fascination with scientific systems. Like an ongoing experiment, each work explores how separate entities can both stand uniquely alone and work cohesively together to form a singular unit. 

We spoke with Perdue about his artwork and how complex concepts, from the tiniest molecule to the largest universe, continually inspire him to create.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

Describe your artwork in simple terms. 

What I’m really interested in is connections: all these connections and these systems that we’re a part of, sometimes unknowingly. We’re here as individual people, but we have relationships with everything around us from people to our environment. I think that’s largely why I like to use abstraction to convey that, too, because it’s a little more universal.

How did your interest in these sorts of connections begin?

It kind of started with space. When I was much younger, I would always get these planetary system books and stuff like that. I just really liked all of these very big things, wondering about, “Where do I fit in?” 

I like to imagine my viewers can contemplate how things can be broken down into smaller things. It is just a bunch of patterns, but we know we’re a part of that. So, it’s looking at it and contemplating, “Where do I fit into this micro-macro existence, where I’m somewhere sandwiched in the middle?”

You have created several series — multiple iterations using the same materials and techniques — under the titles Fragment, Formation and Observation of Surface. Why do you tend to work in a series format?

I think I’m very slow to move on to the next thing. I think for a very long time before I take on a new endeavor. And so it’s like each Fragment is another investigation. 

A lot of how I’m applying materials and these lines is spontaneous, but then it’s not because it’s a repetitive thing that I’m participating in. So it’s investigating it — the shapes and how they interact — and honing my idea of what that is.

When you finish a series, do you feel like you’ve figured it all out?

No. (Laughs.) It’s like asking those big questions, like “What’s my purpose?” You know, you find it by doing. You find it when you just keep going. You keep finding new purposes. I don’t think there’s simply one.

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander