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.
About Peter Stephens:
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.