Artist Statement 2008

PAINTING FOR LANDSCAPE — PETER BECKETT

LEFT SIDE GALLERY 2008

There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats … or with boats … In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter.

— The Wind in the Willows

For Peter Beckett, it’s about the earth and art, and boats.

The Oakville born artist has studied, geomorphology, art and yacht design. He has traveled, painted, and he has shown his art in Europe and North America. On last winter's adventure, working on both wooden boats and his art on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, he came to appreciate how much the two traditions have in common.

Here they have definitely come together in this spectacular new show. Beckett’s large canvasses are filled with the movement, shape and color reminiscent of everything from moss on rock to being soaked by a breaking wave. Here there is a record of travel and learning — a travel-journal and field notes in colour and form. As in nature, there are broad brush strokes and intricate textures.

While Beckett spent the days learning about “fairing,” the final shaping of a new plank-on-frame vessel, he began to write a description of the process. He spent his winter nights aboard a little wooden ketch in a tidal marsh behind Vineyard Haven.

Immediately after painting the hull, he set up a studio and set to work outside, trying to make “art” from the experience.

He opened a studio exhibit of his abstract “impressionist” work, while the paintings were drying.

In May, the 51-year-old painter packed up the paintings and brushes and returned home to the studio that he built near Walters Falls, 25 years ago. Nestled among towering maples, he continued to paint en plein air. Capturing the immediate surroundings, as well as the winter’s “recollections”.

“It was while I was painting outside that, I wondered to myself: if a painter acted as a conduit, taking on the voice of the environment, what would the painting reveal?

The next painting was called “painting For landscape” to remind him where he was when that idea first came to light.

Andrew Kear, a curator friend of Beckett’s pointed out a connection between Beckett's recent outdoor abstractions and the studies of Tom Thomson. The Thomson's contain so much more of the experience of spending a day on a northern shoreline than just the image. Like the Thomson studies, Beckett’s recent abstractions appeal to all the senses, there is an inexplicable inclusion of the smell of the woods or the sound of waves.

What is revealed in this new collection, is distinctively Beckett. There are both hints of forest – lush floors and lofty tall trees, and memories of “The Vineyard Winter” afloat . Something of a departure for Beckett in this show at The Left Side Gallery is a sculptural “assemblage” made from sections of the hull of a 30-foot “Malabar” sailboat that he brought back in the truck with him from “the vineyard”.

One of his expanding numbers of definitions of art is: "having as much fun as possible doing what you like, and making a record to share.”

Beckett wrote “The Art of Wooden Boat Building” to explore just how similar the two traditions are. He also wondered if, "keeping an eye out for signs of hope," might be added to the definition of art.

Artist Statement 2006

The trick is to paint something that on first sight is reminiscent of one of those rare occasions when you can't believe your eyes.

When I'm working on a number of paintings at the same time, they may evolve simultaneously but they are frequently going off in completely different directions. I sit back and let the drama unfold. The paintings become characters in a play, expanding and interacting to express their individual points of view. A character may step out of a painting to pick up a sketchbook and pen some fleeting thought ...or take itself outside into the winter sunlight to see how far its voice will carry.

The "play" takes on a life of its own.

As spring arrives and activities shift, the paintings begin to dry and I take stock of the themes and variations that have emerged. Questions, ideas and musings, words that might provide another perspective, are collected under the heading; "avada," an acronym for "another vain attempt at defining art."

Inspiration

how rich is life's experience beyond the
ones and zeros
and the digital dissolve into three dimensions
a pale reflection of the moment
that we shared through each others eyes
a kind of embrace
without reservation
so rare and reassuring, yet so essential
to breathe in and to notice that
we are occasionally
not alone

some paintings have kept me company for twenty years,
others leave the nest before they're dry
catch and release abstraction
avada

PETER BECKETT Artist Statement 2004

"ENVIRONMENTAL ABSTRACTION" an exhibition of painting

KRAUSE GALLERY April 27 - May 21, 2004

"One of my aims in painting is to learn, to slide on the thin ice beyond what I understand consciously, and to capture in the painting a fragment of that experience that will allow me to return to that place...like being on a pilgrimage and keeping notes in a journal or making maps.

....It's like a collage or a puzzle - not a picture puzzle with a predetermined outcome - more like archaeology, where each fragment, as it is unearthed has the potential of taking the investigation in an entirely new direction. These tangents do eventually veer, cross paths and link up. An exhibition is a way of spreading the "notes" out to take a look... to let a few people look over your shoulder at that moment when your intuition told you to stop."

"I was away from my home in the woods for long enough that when I returned, what was old became new again.... "

shelter in the woods

the ice rain blows

in from the frozen east

for the second straight night

I'm letting the syrup fires go out

and thankful for the few dry logs

for the house

thankful for the radiant floor

the stone must be amused

to be inside and warm

on a night like this

WORDS "I speak to you in dreams, not in the sober naked light of morning. "

Contained in the paintings in this exhibition are traces of a collaboration in "environmental expressionism" with J.Emerson-Levy, a landscape painter from Connecticut." If we open our imagination to the possibility that a particular landscape may be able to find expression through us, how will that effect what we paint?" Pertinent excerpts from the on-going email correspondence will be included in the exhibition.

METHOD

"As a painter, his method is more intuitive than rational more emotional than conceptual. He believes in the possibility of pure painting as a complete language. A language to which viewers respond directly, discovering or experiencing the paintings as they might a natural event. There is often an underlying gesture or basic shape around which the painting has evolved. The colours seem to collide, hum, resonate and merge one into another: Beckett plays with the perceptual balance between the texture or the actual surface and the painting's illusion of space. The movement of the underlying forms, which we intuit, is given resonance by the lines, blobs and splashes of colour that seem to float above the surface as our eyes move back and forth between the surface and the illusionary space." J.K. Grande

As the wind picks up

the blue sky releases

a cascades of snow from the tree tops

Krause Gallery: Moses Brown School, 250 Lloyd Ave. Providence, Rhode Island, 02906

Peter Beckett Artist Statement 2003

An Exhibition Statement

Back to the Natural Environment:

"I was away from my home in the woods for long enough that when I returned, what was old became new again....

skiing through blue shadows on perfect snow... the wood-stove and the warm stone hearth... the explosion of spring

growth through the forest floor... Painting again in the tranquility and seclusion of long winter nights, the recent work

also reaches out to draw inspiration from more remote sources. "

The painter, Peter Beckett was born August 11,1956.

He graduated from Art and Art History at McMaster University, 1979. He interrupted his studies to travel in Europe for a year. Seeing monuments of art and architecture in the context in which they were produced left a lasting impression.

Beckett recently returned to his forest studio from what became an extended stay in the North East USA where he made and exhibited work which, of necessity, focused on the events of

September 11/01.

Working in a Natural Environment

"Having been away from home for that long, what was old became new again....Skiing through blue shadows on perfect snow...

the wood-stove and the warm stone hearth...the explosion of spring growth through the forest floor. Back to the tranquility and

seclusion of long winter nights, the recent work is reaching out to draw inspiration from more remote sources"

"One of my aims in painting is to learn, to slide on the thin ice beyond what I understand consciously, and to capture in the painting a fragment of that experience that will allow me to return to that place...like being on a pilgrimage and keeping a journal or making maps."

"Recently, with the addition of DV and the computer, the "notes" are taking on an increasing number of forms. It's like a collage or a

puzzle - not a picture puzzle with a predetermined outcome - more like archeology, where each fragment, as it is unearthed has the potential of taking the investigation in an entirely new direction. Following this approach, the work... drawing, painting, writing, video...may be moving in different directions simultaneously. These tangents do eventually veer, cross paths and link up. An exhibition is a way of spreading the "notes" out to take a look... to let a few people look over your shoulder at that moment when your intuition old you to stop."