work / SELECTED PAINTINGS 1990 - 2005
Peter Atkins - Readymade Abstraction
The conceptual premise of my painting practice over the past twenty five years has been underpinned by the appropriation of readymade abstract forms and designs that exist in the urban environment. From street signage, outdoor advertising, product packaging, book and record covers, store packaging, patterns on trucks and the angular designs from the sides of caravans. I consider anything and everything as possible reference for my work as I navigate the landscape. Stripped from their original context these elements are elevated from their often prosaic states and become an examination of the overlooked. I first became interested in abstraction through the work of Ian Fairweather, Tony Tuckson, Grace Crowley and Ralph Balson when I was studying at the National Art School in Sydney. This led to an interest in Oceanic Art and textiles, Outsider Art, Folk Art and Quiltmaking, particularly early Amish quilts and the quilts from Gees Bend in the U.S.A. I'm particularly attracted to that imperfect homemade or handmade aesthetic. This is reflected in the type of material I choose as the support surface for my own paintings, often simple plywood, old painters drop sheets or used tarpaulins. I am interested in the cultural associations of particular forms or groups of forms that can trigger memory, nostalgia or a shared history of past experiences. My practice resides in a place between abstraction and representation. The reference forms help clarify this middle ground by providing a link back to the real world. My paintings are an amalgamation of Modernisms colour theory and predominant use of pure form, Pop Arts relationship to the experience of the everyday, Conceptual Arts existential philosophy of the self and identity in society as well as Post Modernisms appropriation of all that has gone before. There are also aspects of Altermodernism that appeal to me as defined by the French curator Nicholas Bourriaud such as 'cultural connectivity' and 'hybridisation' - the mash-up and remixing of existing visual languages. What he describes as 'a new modernity based on translations' for artists 'wandering in time, space and mediums'. An art based metatheory relevant to the 21st century -- an attempt to disseminate through experience the overloading of material and visual data in an age of constant connectivity and accessibility. "Altermodernity," Bourriaud continues, "arises out of negotiations between different agents from different cultures and geographical locations." Artists, by this reckoning, have become like cultural nomads, a mobile community of outsiders within a vast globalised society.
The video below includes an extensive catalogue of past work and also includes numerous studio and gallery installation images. For optimal display of this video please ensure that your youtube settings are set to 1080p (small 'cog' icon located bottom right of the youtube screen).