PAINTINGS

SELECTED PIECES

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  • WALKIN' NY
  • THE WALL
  • DON'T SHED NO TEARS
  • GOOD TIMES
  • ERASURE-Leah Peterson
  • ALL

BIOGRAPHY

PUBLISHED EXCERPTS

    Denis Peterson earned a Painting MFA and teaching fellowship at Pratt Institute where he taught figure drawing while restoring 16th and 17th century Flemish paintings for public museum collections. Among the first Photorealists to emerge in New York, his photorealist paintings were exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, one of the premier art institutions in the world. His hyperrealist works show at museums and galleries throughout the US and Europe.

    Many of Denis Peterson's groundbreaking paintings can be found among some of the most notable art collections worldwide. He is widely recognized as the primary architect of Hyperrealism, a splinter movement from the more traditional painting genre of Photorealism which systemically idealized and fetishized icons of contemporary culture in a detached and at times, banal framework. Abandoning traditional conventions, Denis Peterson illuminated the commodification of alternate realities found within that same contemporary culture: mass consumerism, systemic classism and societal decadence.

    He portrays anonymous ordinary people caught up in contemporary conflicts, neither glorifying nor heroising them. They are simply deserving of having their likeness recorded as any famous person, and more importantly, of having their humanity recognized. A radical painter, Peterson's compelling virtuosity addresses the timeless human condition with precision and dignity. His socially conscious paintings are the products of an extraordinary labor of compassion.

    One demonstration of the way photography became assimilated into the art world is the success of photorealist painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Also called super-realism or hyper-realism, painters like Richard Estes, Denis Peterson, Audrey Flack, and Chuck Close often worked from photographic stills to create paintings that appeared to be photographs.
    Art the Whole Story Thames & Hudson 40,000 Years of Creativity Rizzoli Publishing A Brush Stroke for Every Human Suffering Siletz Denis Peterson Wikipedia 20th C American Culture Edinburgh Univ Press, UK Hyperrealism Catalog Olomouc, MOMA Art & Artists Tate Modern, UK

MEDIA QUOTES

ART CRITICS/SHOW REVIEWS

Peterson with large airbrushed painting

ARTIST

STATEMENT



    My Photorealist paintings in the late 1960s and early 1970s were an emerging genre that became a mainstream school of art following Abstract Expressionism and POP Art. However, lifelike images were not actualized simply by meticulously duplicating details in photographs.

    The illusion was supported through subtle tonal changes and relationships of abstract shapes as compositional elements, without which my work would have lost much of its visceral energy. Airbrushing acrylic paints provided the luxury of spontaneously blending colors, that is, directly on the canvas through glazes. Combining opaque and transparent applications achieved more tonal articulation than otherwise possible in compositional lighting and shading.

    When teaching in college, I maintained high standards in representational art, be it drawing or painting. Many works can be beautifully detailed and tonally modelled; yet they can fall short of the mark when the visual statement lacks any compelling content or contemporary context.

    In applying these same high standards to my own work over the years, my painting style evolved into a more advanced genre. I spontaneously termed it Hyperrealism based on my readings of philosopher Jean Baudrillard, whose compelling treatises identified hyperrealism as an alternate reality permeating our culture. For me, applying an appropriate descriptive term for a new genre was easily eclipsed by re-affirming a genuine state of hyper-reality in my work.

    Consequently, it became clear that my visual observations were acutely aligned with hyperrealism as an illusory backdrop to decadence, mass consumerism, targeted populations and the like, often requiring close interaction with my subjects. This fueled my work to accelerate into an expansive range of subjects with approaches well outside the conventions and values of photorealism along with its more commonly accepted aesthetic principles.

    A relatively recent painting genre, hyperrealism is an evolutionary extension of photorealism, sans conventional aesthetics. Deliberately polymorphic, it adds a new dynamic to challenge perceptions through altered illusions of reality and phantasmagorical visual statements.

    Hyperrealism is a counter culture school of painting, offering a visual excursion into alternate realities (hyper-reality) secured by an existential frame of reference, the human condition. It is a deiberate foray into more substantive subjects, maintaining compositional integrity while exploring our social and cultural environments as excursions into aesthetic expression. Compositional integrity is given equivalent consideration to content, expression and meaning.

    It is no longer enough to secure paintings in mundane frames of reference: objectified themes, banal subjects, or staged settings. The illusion is secondary, a means to an end with an ultimate goal to create timeless compositions that mesmerise the viewer and evoke a core response.

    Humanity, and the expression of humanity in my work, are undercurrents that often confront an illusory sense of reality with an oppositional realm of hyperreality. It is my intention to create a personalized viewpoint and to that end, aesthetic expression in a wide range of subjects. At their core center, these images at once articulate, question and challenge our metrics of verisimilitude and illusion in their cultural subcontexts.

    Some of my painting series have called for close interaction with subjects whereby sensitivity to surroundings was paramount to communicating their human needs. These hyperreal images can provoke our sensibilities, our perceptions, and the appearance of reality. In summary, my paintings are empirical compositions meticulously crafted as compelling visual statements to confront the ordered, the disordered, the connected, and the unconnected.

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