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SCHUEBBE PROJECTS GOLDEN GAZE by Josh Peters


SCHUEBBE PROJECTS GOLDEN GAZE by Josh Peters February 19th - March 21st, 2010

SPACE SCHUEBBE PROJECTS NEUBRÜCKSTRAßE 6 40213 DÜSSELDOR GERMANY T / F +49 (0) 211.32 89 85 WWW.SCHUEBBEPROJECTS.COM SCHUEBBE@AOL.COM

OFFICE SCHUEBBE PROJECTS HASSELERSTRAßE 85 40822 METTMANN GERMANY T +49 (0)2104. 53 348 F +49 (0)2104. 51 580 SCHUEBBE@AOL.COM


Into the Light: Recent Paintings by Josh Peters In 1940 a freelance commercial illustrator named Warner Sallman painted a shoulder-length portrait of Jesus Christ. The following year a Chicago-based publisher began to market lithographic prints of the painting. According to statistics released by the company in 1984, Sallman’s Head of Christ had been reproduced more than 500 million times, appearing on prayer cards, funeral announcements, church bulletins, and in countless other formats. Scholars have examined the extraordinary popularity of this image, noting how it balances a ruggedly handsome portrayal of Jesus with hints of femininity. But the greatest appeal of Head of Christ may lie Warner Sallmann, Head of Christ, 1940 in its concise expression of spiritual enlightenment. Sallman rendered Jesus in three-quarters view, steadily gazing up and off the right side of the canvas. A soft golden light backlights most of Jesus’s head, and seems to arise from his calm contemplation of an unseen force beyond the frame. I found myself thinking about Sallman’s iconic image while looking at Josh Peters’s new paintings. Peters does not paint Jesus, nor is there anything particularly Christian about his work. But like the Head of Christ, many of his recent paintings present isolated figures in meditative states. In Golden Gaze #6, for example, the cropped face of a young man dominates a large canvas. Expertly manipulating thin washes of acrylic paint, Peters describes a thin nose, a smudge of a mouth, and ringlets of hair that resemble wafting smoke. Amidst this summary and ghostly rendering, the man’s eyes are surprisingly expressive, and capture the curious combination of distraction and focus that characterizes reverie. Like most of Peters’s paintings, Golden Gaze #6 is based on an existing image – in this case a picture of an entranced audience member at a 1967 Doors concert. And while the painting’s rosy glow may derive from the concert’s stage lights, Peters exploits this unnatural ambiance to conjure an altered consciousness.


Photographs and film stills have inspired several other recent paintings. In Caveman!, which reworks a scene from the movie 10,000 BC, Peters pulls away from the face to situate the figure in a barren landscape. Here the paint application is much thicker, and energetic strokes of grey, blue and orange suggest a windswept environment. Despite this agitation, the man squints to the left with fierce determination, and the stuttering suggestion of a third eye above his nose may symbolize a higher plane of self-awareness. A similar contrast occurs in Muddy Buddy, where a figure’s head and shoulders are largely obscured by a coarse mixture of brownish paint and ground pumice stone. But once again the eyes command attention. Peering out from under this heavy mask, the man’s fixed gaze seems strangely serene, as though transcending the weight of his earthly existence. Enlightenment has been a theme in Peters’s work for some time. An earlier series of paintings depicted large groups of people engaged in cultish behaviors. These scenes of communal rapture often include choreographed dancing, primitivistic regalia, and penumbral lighting. Such narrative devices are largely missing from Peters’s recent work, but his current focus on single figures involves the spectator in a new manner. Instead of standing apart from a closed circle of escapist ritual, we now observe contemplative individuals at close range. And although none of these figures acknowledge the viewer, they effectively mirror our own act of sustained looking. Not unlike Warner Sallman’s ubiquitous image of Jesus, Peters’s new protagonists may function as intercessors, spiritual surrogates who channel the spectator’s search for meaning and fulfillment.

Matthew Guy Nichols teaches art history at Christie’s Education in New York and is a frequent contributor to Art in America. See David Morgan, ed. Icons of American Protestantism: The Art of Warner Sallman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).


We were Silent Before, 2008 Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas 150 x 185 cm


Let‘s Burn Down the Cornfield, 2009 Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas 120 x 165 cm


The Magic People (Video Stills), 2009 Color Video 7 min., 4 sec.


The Actress Meditates, 2009 Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas 170 x 145 cm


Caveman!, 2009 Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas 180 x 140 cm


Golden Gaze No.7, 2009 Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas 170 x 145 cm


Golden Gaze No. 8, 2009 Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas 150 x 145


JOSH PETERS Born in Boston, Massachusetts Lives and works in Los Angeles EDUCATION 1993 BFA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst 1996 MFA, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2008 Invisible Sun, Raid Projects, Los Angeles, CA 2007 Pretty, Scary, Sara Nightingale Gallery, Water Mill, NY 2006 Sara Nightingale Gallery, Water Mill, NY SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2009 Carnal, Schuebbe Projects, Duesseldorf „ALL TOO HUMAN“, Young American Painters, SCHUEBBE PROJECTS Düsseldorf 2008 Splash; Summer Gallery Selections, Cerasoli Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (catalogue) 2007 Helter Swelter, Sara Nightingale Gallery, Water Mill NY Four Handed Lift, Moti Hasson Gallery, NYC 2006 ScopeHamptons, Southampton, NY (with Sara Nightingale Gallery) 2005 Night of a Thousand Drawings, Artists Space, NYC ByProxy, curated by M.K. Maher, Broadway Gallery, NYC WET, Edgezones, Miami, FL 2004 sCaPeS, curated by David Adamo, Berliner Kunst Projekt, Berlin, Germany 2002 Bi-Design, curated by Almond Zigmund and Aaron Baker, CAC Arts Factory, Las Vegas, NV 1997 Tales of Safu, curated by Jessica Murray, Salon 75, Brooklyn, NY 1995 Something about Nature, Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston, MA AWARDS 2005 Residency Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT 1995 Robert Watts Memorial Scholarship, Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts BIBLIOGRAPHY 2007 Amy Chase Gulden, „Introducing Josh Peters“, www.apartmentthera py.com, May, 17 2007 2006 New American Paintings, Northeast Edition, Bill Arning, Curator A Much Broader Scope, Dedre Stein Greben, New York Newsday, July 9 2004 The Little Things, Carmen Bethencourt, NY Arts Magazine 1997 Tales of Safu, Susan Hamburger, Waterfront Week, February 1995 Sometimes It‘s Nice To Mess With Mother Nature,N.Stapen, The Boston


SCHUEBBE PROJECTS GOLDEN GAZE by Josh Peters February 19th - March 21st, 2010

Concept & Design: Sarah Buck

SPACE SCHUEBBE PROJECTS NEUBRÜCKSTRAßE 6 40213 DÜSSELDOR GERMANY T / F +49 (0) 211.32 89 85 WWW.SCHUEBBEPROJECTS.COM SCHUEBBE@AOL.COM

OFFICE SCHUEBBE PROJECTS HASSELERSTRAßE 85 40822 METTMANN GERMANY T +49 (0)2104. 53 348 F +49 (0)2104. 51 580 SCHUEBBE@AOL.COM


SCHUEBBE PROJECTS GOLDEN GAZE by Josh Peters


Golden Gaze  

Exhibition Catalog

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