Even Kuspit qualifies his readings: "Peters' titles," he writes, "are in fact suggestive, not descriptive, guides to their unconscious import, not tautological reiterations of their content."
In fact the dialectic is as many-layered as the paintings themselves. For example, there are two ways to look at these paintings. Looking from one to the other, taking in the whole gallery in a slow sweep, it's clear that altogether they constitute a continuum: a kind flowing process of creation and destruction, growth and mutilation, birth and death. Forms are passed from one work to the next, but undergoing in the process Proteus-like inversions, fractures, compressions, expansions, extrusions, submersions, liquefactions and near annihilations. Seen in this way, the paintings seem to depend on each other for their impact and meaning, as if they are really just one multi-panelled work. On the other hand, if you concentrate on just one painting at a time, it is overwhelmingly apparent that each one is an autonomous entity, a discrete object, sufficient unto itself-without, however, giving a sense of closure. This is not really a contradiction. Scientists use two apparently opposing theories to explain light: one defines it as an electromagnetic wave, the other as a particle, a quantum of energy. Even though light is a continuum in one theory and a collection of discrete particles in the other, both are nevertheless "true," depending on what questions you are asking. The same goes for these paintings.
Another example in Peters' work of this kind of dialectic is the apparent contradiction between the messy, open, deliberately unfinished condition of his paintings and the flawless, almost Raphaelesque precision of their composition. Yet both observations are "true." Every random splatter seems to belong just there and nowhere else. I think it is these not-quite-resolved dialectical tensions that give Peters' work its uncanny, organic presence.
Maybe the most important dialectic going on here is between the abstract and the concrete. The presence I've been talking about—that sense of being surrounded by not quite inanimate, almost conscious, objects—is anything but abstract. An abstraction is an idea, a concept, an essence. Those things are certainly there, as I've suggested, but you have to annul that concrete presence before you can contemplate them. Presence, after all, is the antithesis of reflection: we can reflect only on things in our past. The synthesis of abstract/concrete—essence/existence, present/past—is the great challenge to the viewer of Sammy Peters' paintings. If, like Odysseus, you can hold on to shape-shifting Proteus long enough, he may eventually give up his secrets. And even if he doesn't, it will be an unforgettable encounter.