Florence Lynch Gallery,
531-539 West 25th Street, Ground Floor,
New York NY 10001 212-924-3290
September 4 to October 4, 2003
For the past several years, George Peck has been painting on large plastic drop cloths, the kind bought in a hardware store or a from a commercial paint supplier. The paintings consist of two layers, with the painting activity confined to the lower middle areas of each sheet. The see-through plastic shifts the focus from close to distant and one must sidle up, feeling almost sandwiched between the plastic, in order to see the work. The slightly off, milky or dim colors which at first seem to comprise a generalized welter of painting activity becomes a diverse range of abstract marks, collaged nylon scrim and delicately drawn imagery. There is a remarkable clarity amid the disparate mediums and applications in this gritty, uncompromising show.
Another important artistic decision of Peck’s seems to be an anti-dramatic one. Peck has partitioned the gallery with these tall painted sheets, so that no sweeping first impression is available upon entering. We have to take the exhibition in bites. There is enough light to see the work but not so much as to dazzle the viewer. The gallery walls are also covered in the same plastic used in the paintings. In doing so, the framing effect that white gallery walls would have on the individual works is avoided. Peck has used the properties of installation art to reinforce rather than to dismantle the activity of looking that accompanies the experience of being with paintings.
Peck demonstrates that the primacy of intimacy in the viewing experience can be asserted, provided that the artist is willing to reorient the very behavior involved in looking at artworks. Much contemporary art seems to be about convincing the viewer that they are having a unique experience. Peck seems more interested in permitting the viewer have one, but on his own terms. Peck’s work is a product of idiosyncrasy rather than an illustration of it, which is what makes this show so satisfying.