Peter Davis: Grids/Stripes/Circles/Sticks

6 Oct-19 Nov 2022
PV 6 Oct 2022, 6-8.30pm


Peter Davis writes:

I’ve never considered myself an artist who creates, a painter who can stand in front of the blank canvas and produce a world for the viewer to decipher and interpret, ticking off a checklist of points political, social or autobiographical. I have neither the aptitude nor the desire to make art in such a way, my own practice feeling closer to Richard Serra’s list of verbs than any other form of expression. What I have always done in my work is adapt what I see in the world outside of the studio and, through the filter of art history, attempt to produce something new.

My phone is full of images that I collect as inspiration for paintings. A skip full of electrical wire catches my attention for its Brice Marden like composition and after much editing becomes the Loops series. My regular dog-walk past Shoreham Port with its neat rows of timber fresh off the boat sends me off to re investigate Bob Law’s Castle works which in time becomes my own ‘Stack” series whilst a news article on the latest tornado to flatten a town in mid America will eventually become my own ‘Stick’ paintings via a continued interest in Imi Knoebels constructions. No grand gestures, a lorry of scaffold pipes become the “circles’ paintings, but paintings that with luck are engaging as objects and also slightly familiar outside of the gallery space.

The piece of art that has had the most profound effect on my practice from the moment I first encountered it is Flower in the Wind 1963 Agnes Martin and it is to The Grid that I return yet again thirty years after my first grid painting at Goldsmiths. It forms the basis of all the series I am now producing, different gestures that are linked by my use of the black line. The black line I first loved in Herges Tintin books and now Chris Ware’s illustrations, allowing such a powerful use of colour, the line that makes Klimt’s landscapes so appealing to me and Paul Klee’s paintings of the 1920’s appear so ahead of their time. The black line enables me to indulge my love of colour without the images ever becoming too gestural stuck as they are in their neat capsules of varying shapes. A push pull of the gestural and the graphic, and it is this that I hope makes them relevant to their time. It is systems that interest me, the systems that Reich and Glass use to make their music, that Martin used to create On A Clear Day and Sol le Witt his wall drawings, through repetition great things can appear.