As an artist, one has many influences and at certain times some have a special significance. At this stage in my career, Peter G. Ray is a painter who I consider both a catalyst and a major figure in painting today. I first became aware of these extraordinary works about six years ago on Kenworth’s Moffett’s Art Letter website and shortly after this I saw three of Ray’s works in the flesh, when visiting Moffett. On this occasion one painting stood out for me; a small black and white one. The two other larger and colourful ones did not grab my eye other than just liking certain parts of the pictures. I also saw some in print reproductions, which again, did not spark much interest.
On seeing these paintings a year or so later and the prints also, the difference in my perception was remarkable. Now seeing and liking the coloured paintings and the prints, a time of influence had begun. During the intervening period, some experimentation in using fluid paint had been going on in my own painting along also with a particular interest in the paint work of Bruce Piermarini and Irene Neal. But for now focusing on Ray, who I also met during this visit to America and he showed me photographs of some of his black and white paintings which were quite something.
I consider Peter G.Ray’s work to be a of great importance. As a painter myself, I recognise him as one of those leading figures that aspiring artists have to acknowledge in order to progress. Not to paint like him, but to understand that he is where painting is at.
Ray’s art consolidates stunning visuals, raw emotion, vivid imagination, immense skill and above all, a highly original and powerful aesthetic. Peter G. Ray shows you things that you have not seen before and so beautifully. A kind of Pollock and Dali collaboration with some occasional Max Earnst sinisterness, but with Ray’s utterly fresh vision. Not only can he fill a space with amazing forms be they black and white or colour, but he can also open out or compress the space and make it part of his arrangement. Mainly using improvised paint pouring, Peter G. Ray also incorporates a variety of mark making and brush work, including precise or coarse renditions which seamlessly merge into the whole picture. He has also more recently included some representational features such as letters, and repeated patterns of angels and butterflies. These pieces remind me of street art, but in a much more accomplished sense.
Ray, has also, latterly managed to bring these elements of his art into a Pop/Conceptual style. He has succeeded in absorbing his techniques onto other materials such as doors, shopping/gift bags and objects specially made for him, such as a large aluminium bag. Visually, these are not as impressive as the out and out paintings and vary more in success, but I guess they are designed to engage the viewer in ideas.
Peter G.Ray is not just a painter, he is a writer also and I suppose it is inevitable that expressions of a literary inclination will seep into his work, while maintaining a strong visual vocabulary.