Notes on a (Re-)Constructed Mirror


As a teenager growing up in the late Sixties, in suburban America, I had, like teenagers have always had, certain ways of speaking. I'm thinking specifically of certain words we used that while authentic at the time, have since become codified, and clichéd as stale emblems of that generation. Far out, psychedelic, cool, and even wow (uttered reverentially) stood in for the experience of being impressed, amazed,… (or simply stoned). In retrospect, though quaint by today's standard I think this vocabulary also exemplified a way of thinking (and seeing) that I miss, and still desire. We put up aluminum foil on our bedroom walls, hung our black light posters, plugged in the lava lamps, and cranked up the Hendrix. Looking back, I am convinced that, although unknowingly, those light shows, posters, and lava lamps recall a moment when the concept of the sublime was perhaps most alive as a living thing at work in our culture. Unconsciously, and supremely unaware we were paying tribute to ideas that Malevich or Mondrian would have understood. The transformative power of visual symbols aligned with a redemptive Philosophy of the Utopian Ideal.  


There is currently a good deal of critical interest surrounding the meanings and importance of those artifacts and signifiers that seemed to swirl around that peculiar cultural moment, which occurred some forty years ago. While I am not interested in the redeployment of any signs associated with that time, I am still asking myself questions about how a way of looking at the world that was both intensely idealistic and oddly naïve, intensely retinal, and coolly conceptual could be re-imagined. 


The works in this catalog I suppose are a response to those questions. I hope(d) to suggest that the act of looking into a deep ambiguous space can have both a physical and philosophical dimension. The optical pleasure of bright, shifting, colorful objects that allows for slow engagement is obvious, but what I also sought to replicate was that utopian dimension that I believe our culture, and painting once held. (I struggle to write that without recoiling). Fractured, but intact the act of looking could still communicate some larger message. The toxicity of these works would act as counterbalance to its other intentions. Beauty has its own meaning, but also hints of another moment when a deeper understanding of the world, and the viewers place in it, still seemed possible. 

Peter Hopkins

New York City