February 25, 2020
Peter Stephens Dante’s Cardigan
26 Feb — 20 Mar 2020
at the David Richard Gallery in New York, United States
Wall Street International Magazine

David Richard Gallery is pleased to announce, Dante’s Cardigan, a solo exhibition of new and recent paintings by Buffalo-based artist Peter Stephens and his debut presentation with the Gallery.

The presentation includes 18 paintings, in a variety of sizes from 18 inches square up to and including a painting 72 x 108 inches, that evolved from a new creative process over the past five years that changed Stephens’ studio practice and generated for him an all new visual language. Born out of the artist’s long-term interest in the fundamental physics underlying the structure and behavior of matter in the natural world, these paintings have become a synthetic abstraction of systems, patterns, sequences and random mutations derived from a set of defined parameters. The result is a series of mixed media abstractions based on the classic grid that explore color interactions and adjacencies to produce intense optical effects and challenge spatial perception.

Construction of the paintings begins with a grid of collaged commercial paint samples, which not only forms the underpainting, but also gives a slightly dimensional surface with nearly infinite possibilities for the configuration of color relationships, scale, and complexity. Overlaid on top of the underpainting is a matrix of fine lines of acrylic medium and pigment, again in numerous configurations, orientations and color combinations. The interaction of the two layers of color and pattern produces a unique aesthetic experience, one of intense optical activity produced by color blending and confounding visual perception, but also rich with cultural associations as well as art historical and design references. Some of these references are clearly derived from and a nod to Op Art, Mid-century Modernism, Color Field painting, Geometric abstraction, Pattern Painting and use of ready-made components.

Stephens is an artist based in Buffalo, New York. He studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been featured in solo shows at Nina Freudenheim Gallery (Buffalo), TUB Gallery (Miami), Zolla/Lieberman Gallery (Chicago), R. B. Stevenson Gallery (San Diego), Fenimore Art Museum (Cooperstown, N.Y.), Drabinsky & Friedlan Gallery (Toronto), and Bess Cutler Gallery (Los Angeles), among other venues. Stephens’s work is in several museum collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, and the Castellani Art Museum in Western New York, as well as the Brooklyn Museum.

Initially, Stephens work “focused on 19th century landscape painting and its dialogue with photography as a new medium.” He also “worked with imagery from pictorial photographers and the proto-modernist work of Eugene Atget to look at the way nostalgia and romanticism is codified through an overlay of historical and cultural distance.” Feeling he had fulfilled his exploration in that realm he wanted to move into abstraction yet, wanting to maintain a conceptual connection to the landscape.

Stephens began reading about space science and physical phenomenon of the natural world such that his paintings and imagery would flow from his underlying knowledge and understanding of each scientific discipline. The first new series of paintings were his “Moon” paintings from 2007 to 2008 inspired by studying the Apollo astronaut mission logs and related digitized NASA images. The largest of the resulting lunar surface paintings is in the permanent collection of the Albright-Knox Art Museum. He then turned to researching the satellite images from Mars. The images were not as clear and distinct as the Apollo images and thus pushed his practice and his new “Areopagitica" series toward more abstract imagery. A painting from this series was also acquired by the Albright-Knox Art Museum and the entire collection was presented together in 2018 at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. Further reading in physics and the structure and behavior of matter pushed his paintings further from the natural world and photographic sources towards pure non-objective abstraction. Additional scientific reading in the biological arena generated a new fascination with “random mutations” and the perturbations they generate and perpetuate in the evolution of forms, resulting in alterations in patterns and structure. Hence, where the new series of geometric paintings begin that are presented in this debut exhibition.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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