Abstraction today exists, as it did forty years ago in the work of the Abstract Expressionists, or almost eighty years ago in the work of the Russian avant-garde, as a preeminent challenge for any artist who chooses nonrepresentational imagery as his subject. Sammy Peters has taken up the challenge as evidenced in this selection of recent paintings.
Without the convenient availability of a wealth of images extant in the world we view daily, Peters, like any abstract artist, must search other realms of vision, tap other resources to guide the placement of paint on a surface toward a meaningful visual statement.
In several large canvases like Subsequent Metaphor, 1985 or small works on paper likeFoolish Spectre, 1985, for example, a few shapes reoccur in each work, particularly a triangle or "wedge" and at least one dominating rectangular shape. While each has its original source, like music, or a photograph, or a scene in the country, Peters' particular sensibility, one cognizant of unconscious impressions, elicits images beyond the basic, object experience.
However, Peters' art is more than just a compilation of mystical renderings. Each work is a dynamic interplay of multiple concerns. The paintings in this current selection are aesthetic exercises in the artistic balancing act of opposing forces.
The dominant set of opposing forces in these paintings is harmony and discord. Each presents different impressions to the viewer, sensations of rhythm and stability, or uncertainty and aggression. Peters sets up the conflict in the arena of the canvas during the strenuous painting process, and once complete, he unleashes the forces for the viewer's engagement.
The forces of harmony and discord are evident in the composition and color of the works. In Neutrino Interaction, 1985, titled like all of his works from unconscious word messages, the green rectangle, the white rectangle and the red triangle may be seen as stable "passages" in the work. And yet the green is not a pure color for other colors emerge from within. Nor is the white pure for calligraphic elements appear. And foremost among the three, the red triangle appears on the canvas at a place where a variety of calligraphic strokes meet, having boldly interrupted the canvas plane. This aggressive intrusion into the space is strongest where Peters' color seems at first more lyrical, as in the white of Evening Faith II, 1985, and the brilliant red of White Roofs, 1985.