Working with a standard - albeit altered - sewing machine, Peter champions the art of embroidery to create fantastic fabric artwork stitch by stitch. In NO NO NO NO NO, his first solo exhibition at Massey Klein Gallery, he draws on his love of post-war cartoons such as Warner Brothers and The Simpsons to create artworks that appear to rail against the world in a state of defiant protest.
This theme manifests itself through doors frantically being held shut, wooden signs dotted throughout a forest and even objects such as handcuffs and a fuse that is about to be lit. Representing both refusal and imminent danger, NO NO NO NO NO captures the many meanings that can be summed up in that simple, two-letter word, 'no'.
It's no surprise that lots of the works on display can be read with a negative connotation. In the piece 'Some locks won't hold', we see a person left to fend for themselves against an oncoming horde while their barricade fails. In 'Forced to perform', viewers see the threat of a task which is impossible to perform, complete with vertigo-inducing perspectives.
Not every image is necessarily negative, though. Some are open enough for viewers to inject their own positive meaning. Take the wooden signs scattered through the snowy woods. Does their simple declaration of 'no' deter the viewer, or instead warn them away from lurking dangers? 'No' can also be read as a declaration of resistance, signalling strength and hope.
Meanwhile, in the meticulously-titled 'Out from under rocks, clearing the crust from dreary eyes and seeing friends again', we see two neighbours greet each other for the first time in, presumably, ages as they wipe dist from their windows. Could 'no' on this occasion be an exclamation of disbelief?
To help give us some insight, Peter adds: "In a twist on that piece's optimism, the diptych "Stuck, only until it's no longer convenient." presents a problem and a solution in mirrored panels, though somewhat deviously."
He adds: "Similarly devious is the pairing of a soft sculpture titled 'Duds' - wherein twenty-two red, fibrous sticks of dynamite are rendered ineffectual and stuck decoratively to the wall - and embroidery "Teetering on indecision." depicting the moments of contemplation before lighting a fuse and starting on a path of destruction, a choice not-yet made but considered, delayed long enough for the match to burn down to fingertips."
NO NO NO NO NO is an amusing and thought-provoking look into what it means to refuse, made all the more entertaining and accessible thanks to the ACME-like characters which seem to inhabit this embroidery world.
The product of a "fervent editing process", these works begin as screenshots taken from old cartoons. Peter focuses on the smallest elements which contain the most action, the crops, edits and adds additional details before tracing, sketching and eventually stitching his creations onto linen.
And as for the titles for his pieces, which act as ciphers and descriptors, or even just something that Peter finds funny, these all serve to provide a jumping-off point for the viewer's interpretation of the work.
"While trying to match the poetics of the image with the poetics of the words, the artist maintains that much is open to interpretation - he is as interested in what others feel from the work as that which was intended," adds the gallery.
Want to see Peter's embroidery art for yourself? Don't say no, instead head to the Massey Klein Gallery before 8 October.
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