From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
Miguel Perez Lem, born in Argentina, has been practicing art in DC since 2004. In addition to Argentina, Lem has worked in Brazil, Chile, Israel, and Spain. His studio, on 14th Street above Treasury boutique, reflects his international background and his eclectic artistic approach.
An environmentalist who emphasizes the productive aspects of art, he frequently salvages old canvases and repurposes old furniture and found objects. His works in progress—from chairs and lamps to oil paintings and charcoal drawings— surround the space. Quotes from well-known artists in their native languages are inscribed on the floor. Glass cases filled with Lem’s small collections of objects, such as antique cameras, line the walls.
Lem describes his artistic practice as “one solid trunk with different branches.” First trained in textile art, Lem early fascination with texture and tactile quality influences his current oil paintings and digital photographs. He uses treatments like encaustic and gold leaf to incorporate unique texture into his paintings. In his photographs, he likes to isolate and intensely magnify one specific element of an object (like petals of a flower) to give a unique point of view on the de-contextualized image.
He appreciates the scientific detail a camera can capture and often uses photographs as visual aids when creating photo-realistic painting. He also takes photographs to stand as works of art in their own right, using “lighting and shadows like brushstrokes [in a painting]” to subtly manipulate the look and feel of the image.
Lem is an active member of Mid City Artists. In addition to creating a wide variety of art, he also teaches oil painting and photography. Most recently, he has joined together with other Argentinean artists throughout the District, Maryland, and Virginia to form the group PA7. They plan to exhibit works at the Embassy of Argentina in 2013 and are exploring other venues across the country. Lem also hopes to work with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities on upcoming projects.