November 13, 2015 - Santa Barbara Museum of Art - Peter Halley: Geometry of the Absurd
November 13, 2015

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Peter Halley, One Step Beyond, 2007. Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on canvas, 75 x 70 inches.
Peter Halley
Geometry of the Absurd
November 8, 2015–February 21, 2016

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
USA
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm,
Thursday 11am–8pm

T +1 805 963 4364
info@sbma.net

www.sbma.net
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

Peter Halley
Geometry of the Absurd
November 8, 2015–February 21, 2016

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
USA
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm,
Thursday 11am–8pm

T +1 805 963 4364
info@sbma.net

www.sbma.net
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

For over 30 years, Peter Halley’s paintings, with their characteristic Day-Glo color and distinctive faux-stucco surfaces, have engaged in variations on the same closed set of geometric forms, designated by the artist as prisons, cells, and conduits. Treating space as a manifestation of social control—an idea inspired by the artist’s interest in Michel Foucault’s notion of a carceral society—Halley’s paintings provide metaphors for the constantly proliferating communication and organizational networks that have come to dominate our world. Throughout his career, the artist has deployed his trademark iconic forms with ever-increasing intensity, resulting in works with ever-more dazzling combinations of color, shape, and texture, assuring their continuing relevance in the post-millennial information age.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) presents Geometry of the Absurd: Recent Paintings by Peter Halley, which represents the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the Western U.S. and features eight large paintings produced between 2007 and 2015. The paintings selected for the exhibition share in common a distinctive double-stack composition, each with two prisons or cells, one precariously suspended above another. The dynamic of each painting is found in the endlessly jockeying for position of two prominent shapes, as if each is attempting to be “on top.” Together, these works project a worldview in which technology and social connections have run amuck, expressed through a geometry that has lost its claim to rationality and become senseless and absurd.

Peter Halley was born in 1953 in New York, attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and graduated from Yale University with a BA in Art History in 1975. He lived in New Orleans in the late 1970s, where he studied painting at the University of New Orleans, receiving his MFA in 1978. He has lived and worked in New York since 1980. In 1985, Halley had his first one-person exhibition at International with Monument, a groundbreaking East Village gallery whose conceptually rigorous program stood in stark contrast to the then-dominant Neo-Expressionist movement. Beginning in 1991, a survey of Halley’s work, organized by the CAPC Musée d’art contemporain in Bordeaux, France, toured Europe with stops at the Musée d’art contemporain, Lausanne, Switzerland, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In 1992, the Des Moines Art Center hosted his first solo exhibition at a U.S. museum. In 2014, an extensive exhibition of his work took place at the Museé D’Art Moderne in Saint Étienne, France.

Halley has executed permanent installations at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and the Gallatin School at New York University. He has taught at the School of Visual Arts, New York, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Columbia University. He served as the Director of Graduate Studies in Painting and Printmaking at the Yale University School of Art from 2002 to 2011. He published index magazine from 1996 to 2005. Halley is also recognized for his critical writing; in 2013, his texts were anthologized in Peter Halley, Selected Essays, 1981–2001, published by Edgewise Press, New York.

Geometry of the Absurd: Recent Paintings by Peter Halley is accompanied by a color illustrated catalogue with an essay by Colin Gardner, author, Ph.D. in Cinema Studies, and Professor, Integrative Studies/Critical Theory and Department Chair of the Department of Art, University of California, Santa Barbara. The exhibition is organized by Julie Joyce, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

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