The Lisson Gallery Shanghai is currently presenting a body of rarely seen paintings by late British artist Peter Joseph (1929-2020) in his first solo exhibition in China.
Created between 2006 and 2011, this selection of works marks a relatively brief yet pivotal phase in the artist's career, which saw the transition from his widely recognized early geometrical and minimal "Border" paintings (1980s-1990s), to a series of freer and more openly lyrical works known as "The New Painting" (2014-2020), showing his deep interest and relentless effort in seeking the "potential in constraint."
Joseph came to prominence in the 1970s for his "Border" series of meditative, two-color paintings, which set one rectangle within a frame of a darker shade. These early works were characterized by perfect symmetry, where every decision about color and proportion could be seen to be redolent of time, mood or place.
The series that the artist pursued, with an unwavering focus for the following 35 years, was inspired by an experience at the cinema in 1971. He sat, mesmerized by a blank screen – the center area lit, and with a black border – after the projector broke down.
This experience led to the inception of his signature "Border" series in the 1970s. Based on a deceptively simple motif, the series features a painted rectangle of a lighter tone set within a border of a darker color.
In 2006, Joseph began to create work that retained a simplicity of form, which he called "The Window Paintings," as presented in the Shanghai gallery. Each work remains limited to two colors and set in a geometric framework, but divided by a center line, either horizontally or vertically.
Through the placing of two tonalities – one lighter, one darker – side by side, there is a sense of freedom that exists outside of the geometry of his earlier work, expressing an ultimate impression of balance. Understatedly elegant and graceful, the colors are shades of gray, ochre, blue and lilac.
Observed from the hillside on which his home and studio were perched in the Cotswolds, Joseph's work became increasingly suggestive of nature, and the shifting clouds and light in the valley below. The artist sought to conjure the density and structure of nature via the abstract relationships between colour, light and form.
Date: Through April 15, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11am-6pm
Venue: Lisson Gallery
Address: 2/F, 27 Huqiu Rd