Monday, November 21, 2005

Artist of the Week (11/21/05)

I've been to a few open studios of my good friend Gary Petersen and watched as other painters took in his latest achievements. Their response is often to nod their head gently, chuckle under their breath, and make a face suggesting they're taking mental notes to themselves, as if to say "Yes...he's right...that is the answer to that question." Gary is an absolute pillar of painting strengths.

When I was first introduced to Gary's work, he was producing shaped canvases like the one to the right. Sort of a mix of Ellsworth Kelly and Caroll Dunham. I use that shorthand a good deal when talking about painters (i.e., they're like So-and-so meets You-know-who), but Gary stumped me when, a few years back, he moved away from the shaped canvases and abstraction of the body into more spatial abstractions, like the piece below, which is currently on view in Gary's solo exhibition at Michael Steinberg's in Chlesea (perhaps you can name the mix):

Gary Petersen, Interstellar Overdrive, 2005, Oil on canvas, 54" x 50" (image from Michael Steinberg's website).

I guess that could be a humanoid abstraction, but more than anything, Gary's latest work is about the love of abstract painting it seems. Oh there's plenty going on within the investigation of the figure-ground relationship, but for me each piece is also a controlled exploration of what it is that paint on canvas can do. From an exhilaratingly inventive palette to a daring juxtaposition of techniques to an exquisite application (difficult to see in reproductions, do go see the show!), each of these paintings offer a visual feast for painting lovers. Here's a piece you won't find in the current exhibition, but it's one I love all the same:

Gary Petersen, Seperation, Oil on canvas, 78" x 48" (image from Metaphor gallery's website)

Gary describes his latest series this way in the current exhibition's press release:

I've always been interested in humor, and in the spiritual in previous forms of abstraction; I feel these paintings reflect that. Figures, veils and portals opening into other spaces are suggested in my work. These paintings flirt with representation and act as a bridge between the real and the imagined.
Here's another piece that from his current exhibition:

Gary Petersen, Outside of Tokyo, 2005, Acrylic and enamel on wood panel, 24" x 30" (image from Michael Steinberg's website).

With the plethora of fast and loose figuration one's bombarded with these days, it's good to be reminded of the quality (and sheer joy) that technical expertise and careful exploration are capable of producing. Here's a final image, of a drawing...there are some fantastic works on paper in Gary's show now as well (have I mentioned you really should go see this show in person?):

Gary Petersen, Untitled (Outsidein # 8), Acrylic and spray enamel on paper, 23" x 30" (image from Michael Steinberg's artnet website).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

gary is a good artist, he has been working a long time with little or no reward, so i am glad to see him finally having a solo show.

11/21/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous bambino said...

i had a great time at the opening and after party. congrats gary, great work.

11/21/2005 08:51:00 PM  
Anonymous ML said...

Humor in Gary's work really surfaced when his son arrived.

I'm glad you spotlighted him.

11/23/2005 09:01:00 PM  

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