Peter Barrett

Woodstock, New York, USA

Combining the influences of Op and Minimalism, my work explores a territory between several different opposites, both high and low: sacred geometry and pop culture psychedelia, organic and geometric patterns in nature, Tantric art and computer art. My paintings inhabit an area between all these others, while belonging to none of them and referencing all of them. In addition, I approach painting in a variety of ways: on panel, on reliefs and objects, and as installation. I’m interested in breaking down the boundaries between genres, and I try to create a tension in my work as to where it belongs on the painting/sculpture/installation continuum.

The large wall installations represent the most ambitious manifestations of this idea to date and become almost architectural. The relief paintings contrast the geometry of the patterns with biomorphic contours, and this relation of surface to object gives them a strong presence as well as pushing painting into a sort of 2.5 dimensional space. I’m interested in making a surface soften into what I think of as an optical space, while avoiding Op art’s cloying dazzle. When viewed from a distance, the paintings look as if they are computer generated, but are clearly hand painted when seen up close. They are meant to seduce the sense of vision and at the same time reveal its limitations. This combination of seduction and frustration relates to my interest in the moral and philosophical implications of cutting-edge cosmology and physics; ambiguity and boggling complexity may be fundamental aspects of reality’s machine language.

I want my work to exist as an environment, an experience beyond genre, and for the dialogue between media to draw attention to different ways a surface can be made to dissolve into another kind of space, which is compelling and slightly uncomfortable. All these pieces illustrate my belief that beauty can be radical and subversive, and that the dialogue my works create between disparate image traditions finds a mode of expression that contains elements of these ideas while still acting as open-ended metaphor that viewers can interpret individually.

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