For nearly three decades, Peter Halley has deployed his geometric icons — “solid cells,” “gridded prisons” and “linear conduits,” using modern geometry as raw source material. He dissects the human condition: exploring our isolation and capacity for interconnection, looking at the ways in which technology affects how we communicate and probing the ways in which our living and working environments shape us. His paintings are executed in industrial and boldly artificial DayGlo paints in metallic and pearlescent colors. Roll-a-Tex, a paint additive used to create textured walls, roughens his surfaces.
“Peter Halley: Big Paintings,” at the Florence Griswold from February 6 through May 31, will draw on work from major public and private collections for a retrospective that will move from early work in this now-international career to include a new painting created for the occasion.
Curated by Benjamin Colman, Florence Griswold’s assistant curator, this is Halley’s first solo museum exhibition on the East Coast and his first American solo museum exhibition in a decade. It is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions at the Griswold Museum that focuses on modern and contemporary artists who have lived and worked in the state.
Although Halley is often thought of as a New York artist, Connecticut has played an important part in his life and career. He earned his undergraduate degree in art at Yale; from 1991 to 2011, he was both a professor and director of the university’s graduate painting program.
Halley’s distinct vocabulary surfaced when he was a young artist, returning to New York City after a seven-year hiatus in Louisiana where he earned an MFA from the University of New Orleans.
“The paramount issue in my work became the effort to come to terms with the alienation, the isolation, but also the stimulation engendered by this huge urban environment,” he was written.