This month, renowned American artist Peter Halley will debut his first solo exhibition in Asia at Art Plural Gallery. Having grown up in New York, it is no surprise that the artist’s iconic style manifested from the confines of the city grid, dubbed ‘urban prisons’. Halley’s work is exemplary in the way he manages to imbue within the viewer a sense of disillusionment within modern day society.
After graduating with a degree in art history from Yale University, Halley furthered his studies in painting at the University of New Orleans, and showcased his first solo exhibition upon graduating in 1978.
Halley’s decision to return to New York in 1980 launched his career into new heights, when he found inspiration through the hardships he faced upon living alone. It was in New York that Halley cultivated the idea of the prison cell as an analogy for modern urban life, criticizing the banality and isolation of being ‘confined’ within an urban space. Citing influential post-structuralist writers like Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virillio, he shared their same concern for the urban character confined within a disillusioned society.
Inspired chiefly by the existentialism of the 1950s-70s, Post-Structuralism in the 1980s, and modern day technology, Halley’s work formulates itself around the changing nature of society. The artist laments upon a transformative urbanism, documenting the causal effects on the human persona within our own contemporary culture. In doing so, Halley becomes infatuated with the rise of technology, replacing the former city grid with the computer. In his most recent pieces, the artist portrays human dependency on technology and electronic communication, which in itself, presents the problem of physical isolation.
The mediums which Halley adopts are also important in beginning to understand the influences behind the artist’s work. Texture remains crucial; something which Halley believes is the basis to good painting, as it “appeals to the tactile part of the brain”. His use of everyday industrial materials like Day-Glo acrylic and Roll-a-Tex not only allows him to achieve his desired texture, but also establishes a relative accessibility within his work.
Art Plural Gallery will be showcasing ten of Halley’s works spanning the later years of the artist’s career. The exhibition promises to be an exciting and unique showcase, exemplifying an intrinsically influential artist of our contemporary time. The contemplative nature of his work manifests itself within the overall formal qualities of each piece. Adopting a flow-chart motif void of captions, Halley forces the viewer to reflect upon contemporary society, or perhaps rather disconcertingly, our own personal lives.
Exhibition: Peter Halley: Solo Exhibition
Dates: 29 August – 11 October 2014
Venue: Art Plural Gallery, 38 Armenian Street, Singapore 179 942
Hours: Mon – Sat 11am to 7pm (Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)