Peter Soriano: Permanent Maintenance

September 24, 2015 - August 21, 2016


An accomplished sculptor, Peter Soriano began making wall drawings in 2012. Rather than shaping, carving, or casting three-dimensional forms, he now assembles and arranges visual experience, using what captures and holds his attention to generate orchestrated constellations of marks, such as those that make up Permanent Maintenance, his largest wall drawing to date. Commissioned by the Colby College Museum of Art, this multipart piece spans approximately one hundred linear feet of the William D. Adams Gallery and is composed of acrylic and spray paint applied directly to the wall.

Soriano’s process is open and adaptive. Working from initial drawings and notes, he develops wall drawings to scale in his studio, proceeding section by section and producing a set of instructions for each visual element. Structured into these instructions are opportunities for the contributions of others, and the Colby project included a team of student installers and other participants when the piece was realized on site in September 2015. (Three notebooks of instructions as well as other materials related to the production of the work are on view in the Davis Curricular Gallery through April 28, 2015.)

Akin to the wall drawings of such artists as Sol LeWitt and Mel Bochner, Soriano’s works give form to uniquely fluid interrelations between object, site, and studio—as well as future sites—that distinguish his contribution from earlier manifestations of conceptually informed art. Not only can the whole of Permanent Maintenance be installed elsewhere, but each of its three sections includes one or more components that can be presented independently.

The title Soriano gave to this commission suggests a relationship between the inherent unreliability of perception and the desire to capture and document the seen world. Soriano encountered the words “permanent maintenance” on a building façade in New York City, and he saved the phrase for potential repurposing, much as he does with other visual impressions.

About the Artist

Born in 1959 in Manila, Philippines, Soriano received his B.A. in Art History from Harvard College and studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture before moving to New York City in 1981. Beginning in the 1990s, he made a series of internationally recognized fiberglass sculptures. In 2004, during a residency at the Atelier Calder, Soriano experimented with readymade materials—among them, aluminum pipe, steel cable, and nylon webbing—that became the underpinnings of his first wall installations. As the wall works progressed, he added spray-painted lines and symbols, then eliminated the structural elements altogether to allow the notational vocabulary he had developed to become the sole source of his imagery. In New York, Soriano is represented by the Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., where one of his first wall drawings appeared. He has also realized wall drawings in Busan, South Korea; Brussels; and in Paris, where he is represented by Galerie Jean Fournier.

Related Programming

Related Publications and Press

Soriano_PermanentMaintenance_FrCoverFinPeter Soriano: Permanent Maintenance

This exhibition catalogue includes essays by Elizabeth Finch and Kirsten Swenson and features an artist’s project with instructions for creating a wall drawing in a site of the participant’s choosing.