Vivek Pereira’s “Mass Recovery” was, in every way, a huge success for the artist and a breath of fresh air for London’s art community. The opening night was packed with intrigue and interest from all who attended, no matter their background or prior interest in art. Gone was the snobbery and exclusivity that often plague these small, West-London gallery-boutiques. I attended the opening night alongside Daniele Kieraite, as well as just being present in the more day-to-day set-up and running of the five-day exhibition. Russian painter Wassily Kandisky, often credited as the pioneer of abstract art, famously said “There is no must in art because art is free”. This exhibiton made this quote even more apparent with the challenges the artist faced along the way. Though not everyone’s reaction to the art on display was positive, the fact that it garnered a strong reaction from every attendee says more than any review could because, as I said, it’s all in the dialogue.
I first met artist Vivek Pereira four years ago when we worked together at a hotel just outside central London. It was a quiet hotel and so we spent the majority of the time talking about everything that was unrelated to work. I had my flittering dreams of becoming a musician one day, or perhaps being a restaurateur the other. Vivek however, had one goal. His art. Unwavering and fully dedicated to this one outcome. There was no ‘plan B’. He’s the kind of person that you just believe. When he hosted his first solo exhibiton in Goa a couple of years ago, I saw the beginning of his dreams becoming a reality and now, in 2021, this show on Portobello Road feels like the next great step for an artist who is only going to build on his ambitions and make a real change in the world.
If opening night was anything to go by, there was serious interest in Vivek’s unique style of abstract art. The first sale was made before the gallery even opened. There were conversations started by what he had created, people who would never normally stop in at a gallery stood in front his work and it challenged them. I thoroughly believe that that is what art is made to do. Art is not just for people who understand the technical jargon and why a certain brush stroke was used. If anything, that can almost take away from the true personal experience that art should bring to those who view it.
And the compliments were rolling in for his work. One attendee said that “all generations could appreciate and love this”, while another mentioned that Vivek’s view of the world and the everyday was something “very important for future generations to see”. I felt the same. This was something unique and special. Something that had a different meaning to everyone who saw it. Vivek often told people who came in that the paintings would show them something different everytime they looked. This was the kind of work I was lucky enough to be around.
Not every reaction was positive though. There was one painting in particular that garnered a strong response from some who saw it. Shown below, the picture contained a depiction of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as a pig, altering his name to call him “Swinestein”. This was later misinterpreted as an anti-semitic attack on the Jewish community. This is where my sentence “it’s all in the dialogue” comes about. Through Vivek’s work there are so many potential options for the meaning and implications of certain portions. Each piece is a tapestry of complex ideas and cries against political injustices and the mistreatment of certain communities, but only if you look properly. Only if you spend time with each work.
At the end of the day though, I know that Vivek is thoroughly proud of all that his “Mass Recovery” exhibition achieved. His aim was to create a conversation. To make an impact on all those who viewed his work and create a real change. Mission accomplished. What’s exciting too, is that this is only the beginning of what he can accomplish here in London. It is this “dialogue” that he can create through his works that makes everything he does stand out. Not many artists can do that. I saw that through the passers-by who had to stop and walk back just to confirm what they saw. I saw it through the people he created a connection with, and the people who stormed out. That’s an impact.
You can follow Vivek’s journey here: