Artist's Statement for the Topographies - Graham Peacock at 70 Exhibition
I paint topographically, flat on the floor, and compose colour and surfaces by pouring paint over collage. By manipulating and inducing and shrinkage in the paint skins, I create the formations you see before you. My paintings closely resemble the Earths surface in the way it was formed, when matter was irrupted and land and sea found their equilibrium. Some also look like magnified microorganism, as they are formed by a natural rheological process and invite chance behaviour of and seeming chaos. All of this under my orchestration and my stewardship.
In 1981-2, I discovered this new way of painting, and the potential I found within this paint crazing process has led me to explore both regular and irregular shaping, collages and prints using these natural formations as the starting point for my work. In this exhibition, in some works I am again composing within the rectangle for the first time since 1987. This way of painting is my approach to pure painting; painting that is generated directly from the process and act of painting itself. Each painting beginning as a considered hypothesis, an act of discovery, and a challenge of resolution.
Although my painting may be referred to as abstract, my work is representational, although perhaps not in the traditional sense, it is so, by the associative imagery it contains.
My inspiration comes largely from art, travel, life encounters and my past work. I usually start with imagining and compose a visual hypothesis, then formulate paint, pour, manipulate and dry my compositions, changing and guiding them to a conclusion. Each work, although initially 'composed', has a high degree of random built into the painting process, allowing me the freedom to capture whats best, as the work develops. Once dry, I edit, crop and adjust each work on the wall, before and after stretching, until it becomes a unified reality. Since the mid 90s I have been employing the arabesque, in various ways, as a unifying and compositional motif. In these works the collage and canvas twists together with painted bands, modelling and shading all contribute to the spatial illusion of the painting.
My works follows on from that of the artists of New New Painting, Post Painterly Abstraction, Color Field, the New York School and the Abstract Expressionist, in that, I too, endeavour to find a new way of drawing; to extend pure painting by the discovery of a new form. I embrace the all over field of colour as in the paintings of Jackson Pollock, Jules Olitski and Larry Poons, with the colour of Jack Bush, Morris Louis and Clifford Still and the arabesque from Matisse and banding of Kenneth Noland. All these influences feed into my work.
From the 1920s until the 1980s painting moved toward the flattening of the picture plane and modelling, shading and illusion; the tenants of representational art, were increasingly excluded from what was the best abstract work of that time. Today, increasingly, modelling, shading and illusion have begun to find there way back into abstraction and in my work I have embraced these possibilities since the 1990s.
Seeing, as an active vs. passive act, is something particular to the visual arts. Directing ones eyes to experience the visual activity of an inanimate object, and contemplating the experience, is a learned practice, refined and developed over time, through continued experiencing. This is how I judge and develop my work.
All art has its own characteristics and narratives but paramount to its quality is the originality and the visual unification of its forms. No narrative, however persuasive can replace the value of visual experience and perception in art. I have no dictates on how art should be and everyone experiences art for themselves. But in what I paint, I need my art to articulate a unified and visually perceptible reality, with a lasting and uplifting quality. That is how I evaluate my work, and how I inform my next paintings.
Graham Peacock December 16, 2015