Shark Fins, Surfboards, and Rock ‘n’ Roll at Winston Wätcher Fine Art

Combining a shark fin, surfboards, Rock music, and psychedelic flower collages, Peter Dayton’s exhibition at Winston Wätcher Fine Art exudes summer. “Peter Dayton: Anarchy in My Head” explores the artist’s Pop oeuvre, from the blurred flower collages that launched his career, to his vinyl record paintings that delve into the romance and ideologies of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Working with a range of media, Dayton captures the American aesthetic and blends it with a Modernist approach. 

Dayton’s best-known works examine cultural identities within mainstream society. “I’m not that interested in content,” he has said. “I’m interested in style, meaning, how things are done.” Dayton often takes inspiration from popular iconography; as seen in his surfboard paintings with flowery designs and bright stripes that are reminiscent of the 1960s. Bad Girl #7 (Ari up) (2014), is adorned with a retro stripe and girly details, reflecting big-wave culture and Post-painterly abstraction—a term coined by critic Clement Greenberg to identify a style that evolved from reactions to Abstract Expressionism. Dayton’s surfboard paintings drift between authenticity and satire, representing actual objects, but with fake aspects like the decal in Bad Girl #7.

Abstract imagery is continued in the collages from his “Blur” series. Luminous and tantalizing flowers engulf these panels and petals press at the fore, creating a frenzy of overwhelmingly bright colors. Alternatively, the flowers in his “Chanel” series are crisp and elegant, printed in black, white, and gold.  

In addition to his paintings and collages, Dayton reflects pop culture with his sculptures. Cutting through the center of the gallery is a sinister shark fin, Untitled (2011).The sculpture appropriately coincides with his surfboard paintings—a combination that is enough to provoke the infamous two-note theme song from Jaws. His table, Daytona 200 (Black) (2012), includes black striped details and a glossy finish, drawing from elements found at Daytona’s racetracks. In all of the works there are elements that draw on classic Americana and popular imagery, creating a summer ambiance that continues throughout the exhibition.

Newlin Tilloston

“Peter Dayton: Anarchy in my Head” is on view at Winston Wätcher Fine Art in New York through July 31, 2014.

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