PR recently visited painter Gary Petersen at his studio at the Elizabeth Foundation in mid-town Manhattan. His works brings an unusually personal touch to geometric abstract painting with their off-center linear quality and subtly eccentric color choices.

Studio wall adorned with record cover, drawings, and past exhibition invites.

GJK1, 2010
gouache on paper, 15” x 11.25”

Assorted acrylic, colored pencil & graphite works on paper

GJK2, 2010
gouache on paper, 15” x 11.25”

It's exciting and refreshing to see work that re-visits the concepts behind the constrained format of hard-edged painting that feels human, but never becomes sentimental. The color choices are unpredictable and exciting...the structure is playful, but at the same time highly sophisticated. With his subtle integration of blacks, greys, and metallics into a vibrant pallette, Petersen offers a clear bridge to a Californian Pop sensibility from an East Coast perspective.

Petersen has talked about his interest in cosmic portals in abstract art and how the linear quality of his compositions allow for multiple entry points into the work. One is also reminded of the easy flow of musical tempo, squeezing the frames of movement that create a cool, vibrant hum.

Intuitive wall installation

Untitled, 2010
acrylic on panel, 20” x 16”

If Only I Could, 2009
acrylic on panel, 20” x 16”

In an excerpt from a recent, in-depth interview with Julie Karabenick on Geoform, Petersen discusses his interest in making abstract paintings that reflects our human vulnerability and uncertainty:

"I respond to art that has some sense of the person in it. What makes humans interesting are our mistakes, our attempts at a good life, but never quite getting there. I try to use geometric abstraction to this end. I hope that my work can, at times, add something to what it means to be human in this world.

There are contemporary artists who use geometry to remove the hand, the person, the human touch; to reflect utopian ideals, purity, and formal concerns. It's important in my work that the hand is evident, that my paintings are not perfect. I don't wish to replicate graphic design, and I don't strive for a clean, machine-made surface."

Open Up, 2009
acrylic & oil on wood panel, 24" x 30"

The artist in his studio

Someday, 2008
acrylic on panel, 18” x 14”

Past exhibitions include shows at White Columns, Janet Kurnatowski, and he has recently been selected for the upcoming the 2010-11 Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Space Program. He is currently showing in Domestic City: Methodology & Intuition, at Kidd Yellin in Red Hook, that runs through June 19 and will participate in Casheesh, at Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington, MA, opening Saturday, May 29.

- Vince Contarino, 05.25.10