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Peter Brown opens "Journey to the Center of the Earth" at PSS

The Pattern Shop Studio is pleased to announce our next exhibition, Journey to the Center of the Earth, a solo exhibition of work by New York/Colorado artist Peter Brown. Journey to the Center of the Earth will open with receptions on Friday, September 1, and Friday, October 6th, 2017 (6 to 9pm) and will be on view until Friday, October 20th.  Brown will talk about his work at a Salon on Saturday October 14, 4-6 pm. The gallery will also be open for groups or individuals any time by appointment (303-297-9831).

Peter Brown received a BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.  He has been exhibiting his work  since the 1960’s and has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit and other locations across the country.  He has been written about in the New York Times, Newsday, Artforum and Arts Magazine.  His work is in the collections of The Prudential, NY; News Corp; City University of New York; First National Bank of Chicago, and the Dannheiser Foundation, NY.

Zoe Larkins, Assistant Curator at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art, describes Brown's work this way:

Contradiction characterizes Peter Brown’s recent paintings. Opposing ideas—about process, composition, and dimensionality—are embedded in each work. The paintings evince aspects of and the strain between abstraction and representation, Eastern and Western painting traditions, and flatness and depth.


Brown's process is itself paradoxical: the artist aims to make pure abstractions but imbues them with elements he derives from the distinct environments in which he works—Lyons, Colorado, and Lower Manhattan. He chooses to engage with his surroundings, but attempts to do so through an automatic process. His medium, quick-drying acrylic paint, and tools, which range from grooved trowels to pencils, drive this practice. Playing with the surface of each painting, he fends off intellectual concerns and overt representation. To this end, in an effort to abandon any such superimpositions, he will sometimes paint a monochrome field over a work in progress and leave it untouched in his studio for several weeks, effectively erasing his work. 


The most basic aspect of these paintings’ composition is contradictory as well. Brown orients the works vertically, and he explains his choice to do so in terms of Eastern and Western landscape painting conventions. In spite of working in a quintessential American Western environment, at the base of the Rocky Mountains, he aligns his paintings on a vertical axis that is more common in historical East Asian works. Stacked or cascading forms in some of Brown’s paintings resemble Chinese and Tibetan scrolls in which tall, dense configurations convey depth or discrete natural scenes are staggered on one vertical plane. Works dominated by a central figure reference Tibetan tankgas, 19th-century Indonesian textiles, and Persian carpets. Brown credits the latter group of works for their influence on both overall composition and minute formal elements, such as patterns that mimic the weave of textiles, and on his palette.


Perhaps the most essential of the incongruities embodied in these paintings is that between their flat surface and the volume of the wooden structures on which they are made. Brown sculpts the verso of the board for each painting to create a frame-like form with rounded, tapered edges. He paints the sloped back in white, further finishing the object and optically pushing its face forward. In painting the board’s flush front surface, however, he works away from depth, toward flatness. He does so by building up layers of paint and, eventually, sanding them down to a level plain. He deepens the profile of each object, then reduces it. The compositions that result from this process appear at once completely flat and extensively layered, as fragments from the accumulated strata of paint are preserved, revealed, or produced through the sanding’s compressing effect. Sanding and the application of light color washes create an encaustic quality that enhances the surface’s uniformity. Ironically, Brown’s works on paper, theoretically the shallowest of these paintings, are noticeably impastoed in spite of having been sanded.


Expressions of these dualities and their inherent competing principles manifest in different forms and with varied strength throughout this body of Brown’s work, suggesting a dialogue between paintings, or the artist and himself. The works do not resolve the binaries, however, but instead hum with their tension.

 Amazona, 21 x 20, acrylic on wood panel, 2016

Greenland, 39 x 23, acrylic on wood panel, 2016 

Seated Figure 1, 19 x 15, acrylic on wood panel, 2014

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