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Painting Exhibition 2009

Oil on canvas and acrylic on board paintings

Catalogue Essay by Gary Wiggins

Peter Nelson’s painted world is one of indulgent desolation. He presents the viewer with objects of human inhabitation, stripped of their crutch of meaning and the fantasy of social pretense. His curious and unexpected combinations contemplate and confront what is generally classified as banal.


His vision conveys a sense of melancholy, or depression, not as a condition from which we can react or recover, but as an ultimate emotion of life, suggesting by implication that we live in a fantasy of avoidance. His uninhabited paintings allow us to look back upon the material signifiers of our lives. Within this rather bleak view, there is however a strong sense of calm. Time has been paused, or even removed.


His titles rarely describe the painting itself, more often they seek to expand interpretations of the subject matter presented. They reference literary sources such as J. R. R. Tolkien, other artists such as Fred Williams and various 13th century Chinese painters, as well as actual places.


Catalogue Essay by Shannon Field

Peter Nelson’s work invites the viewer into a strange, surreal world; one that is both similar yet very different to our own. Like Alice’s journey through Wonderland, Peter’s images transport us into a poetic space that is full of wonder, unease, portent and loss. The sparse landscapes Peter creates develop out of a variety of real and imagined places and objects that are reconfigured across ambiguously flattened spaces. Devoid of horizon lines and traditional Western perspective, the objects seem to float, suspended across the surface, occupying a transient and unstable mid-ground that is in part inspired by traditional Chinese painting.


Seeped in muted grays, blues and greens, this post apocalyptic world represents Peter’s ongoing concern with melding together the external landscape of the environment with the internal landscape of our imagination. That this melding together should produce such a disturbing, unstable space points to the fraught and unresolved relationship that exists between ourselves and the environment.


In this sense, Peter’s work engages with the politics of identity, responsibility and space, utilizing the landscape to explore and open up a dialogue between the viewer and his work. Without professing any answers, Peter’s images simply and poetically raise important questions we all face today.


[Solo exhibition]

Flinders Street Gallery, 2009

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