FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
It’s a great honor and pleasure to present Peter Hutchinson’s 50-year survey, The Logic of Mountains, at Freight+Volume. That being said, it’s very possible that there is in fact no logic to mountains: much like Peter’s work in general, they are cloaked in ambiguity – rational, irrational, or somewhere in between – i.e. they just ARE. But no matter, they are indeed awe-inspiring.
This is precisely the beauty and irony of Peter’s work – it defies exact description and categorization, much like the man himself. I’ve known and worked with Peter for over 20 years – in fact, for most of my career as a gallerist – and I must say there has never been a dull or predictable moment. To know Peter is to be constantly astounded, enriched and educated by him – at age 83 he (and his work) is still as fresh and funny as ever; his transplanted English infectious wit and insight never ceases to surprise.
Why his career hasn’t reached even greater heights in the US as it has in Europe is also somewhat of an enigma. Highlights of his impressive resume include a two-person show with Dennis Oppenheim at the MoMA in 1969, representing the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1980, a solo retrospective at the Arp Museum in Remagen, Germany in 2010, and work in virtually every major US and European museum collection. His peers and friends form a who’s who of art world luminaries for the past five decades – Robert Smithson, Dennis Oppenheim, Sol LeWitt, Bill Beckley, Al Hansen, Teeny Duchamp, John Cage, Jackie Matisse, Virginia Dwan, Colin de Land – just to name a few. Perhaps his decision to move to the Cape 40 years ago – a kind of self-imposed exile from NYC and the center of the art world – accounts in part for this under-recognition. But it is inevitable that Peter will eventually get his much deserved due. I hope this 50-year survey will help contribute towards that end.
Hutchinson is a true renaissance man, in every sense of the word. Part fanatical botanist, part consummate humorist, part die-hard TV sitcom enthusiast (he can practically recite every episode from Cheers and Seinfeld from heart), Peter again defies easy labeling. Visiting his garden and studio, especially in the summer, which he shares with several half-feral cats and includes a rare species of orchid he himself discovered and named, is a rare treat. The stories I’ve shared with Peter over the years are many. There’s the summer in the 90’s he introduced me to his then-dealer from NY, the legendary Holly Solomon, who wore her mink coat the entire visit (it was August), even as we lunched on lobster roll melts on the deck of DNA, my Provincetown gallery, and planned his next exhibition. There was the time I was swept off my feet – quite literally – at a busy intersection in Soho on the way to Henry Geldzahler’s memorial, after we drank a pair of bee-pollen/spirulina/high-protein shakes and Peter suddenly decided he knew the best way to cure his art dealer’s backache. There was the first time I tasted his homemade dandelion wine before a studio visit, and a few glasses later – like wearing 3-D glasses – was seeing incredible new dimensions in the already surreal photo-collages. There were long meandering walks in the beech forest near his house, testing various species of wild mushrooms (with serious trepidation) and being very grateful to survive another day. But above all, there is Peter Hutchinson’s work itself – bursting with color, humor and a kind of quiet, understated subversiveness.
Richard Prince once confessed to me, when he purchased a work from Hutchinson’s first show at F+V, that Hutchinson was the single most important influence on his own art. He considered Peter - and many would agree – to be the “grandfather of narrative art”. To be sure, Peter has always been an iconoclast – well ahead of his time. From his long-term vegetarian diet (“I won't eat anything with a face” Peter once confided) to composting and recycling his trash long before it was fashionable, to never driving or owning a car – Peter has constructed a self-sufficient, modest and almost hermetic existence, well outside the art world (albeit firmly entrenched in it). He follows a long line of literary and artistic Provincetown transplants, also counterculture and fiercely independent – such as Henry Beston, Hans Hoffmann, Stanley Kunitz, Norman Mailer, Jack Pierson and John Waters.
Hutchinson’s ecological philosophy and lifestyle shine through in his work and writings, of which we’ve excerpted several in the accompanying catalog for The Logic of Mountains exhibition. Peter seems to say, using his life by example, that there is so much to appreciate, to do and see and smell and taste and experience – outside the parameters of the art world – while at the same time ironically it seems he has never really left that world. The trajectory of his life and his work - forever intertwined – attests to that fact.
I’ve learned so much from Peter over the years, as his friend, fellow artist, and dealer, and I expect I will continue to do so for many years to come. For that I am very grateful. Special thanks also to Anthony Haden-Guest and Peter Frank for their always remarkable literary and historical insights, to Monica Truong for her amazing design skills, to Ron Lindholm at Cape Cod Picture Framing for his fine and speedy work on this and many other shows of Peter’s, to Kevin Thomas for his expert photography, to Peter Donnelly for his tireless work and patience as Peter’s studio assistant, to Forrest Gray for his swift transport, and to all the staff at Freight+Volume for their indispensable help in creating this exhibition.
Born in England, Peter Hutchinson has lived in the United States for over half a century and has practiced art for nearly as long. Beginning as a geometric painter, his close contact with minimal artists in New York such as Sol LeWitt and Tadaaki Kuwayama exposed him to conceptualist thinking at its inception. But Hutchinson turned away from minimalism and conceptualism’s rhetorical bent, preferring to follow a more overtly poetic and nature-oriented path. In this way, he remained true to his British roots, mirroring and even anticipating the landscape orientation, and physical commitment, of artists like Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, and evincing the heritage of the great poets and painters of the 18th and 19th century, including Constable, Wordsworth, and Blake.
Please join us for a reception with the artist on Thursday, March 7th from 6-9pm. For further information please contact Nick Lawrence at 212-691-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.