Arts+Leisure is pleased to announce The Eye of Nature, an exhibition of new work by Peter Hutchinson, the most recent of a decades-long exhibition history with F+V and its sister gallery, DNA. Melding collage, painting, and his own poetic musings, this body of work reflects Hutchinson's enduring fascination with nature and the often elusive narratives it suggests.
Over the course of his career, Hutchinson has developed a distinct artistic practice that fuses Land Art, diaristic text, and photo-based collage, underscored by a romantic and enigmatic conception of nature and travel. His art is in many ways an extension of his own highly personal connection with nature; he tends to a uniquely evolved garden at his Provincetown studio, and has long maintained a vegetarian diet.
One work in the exhibition, Monarch Story, features a photograph of his garden and studio, along with text that recounts the time he encountered a Monarch butterfly in New York City and believed it to be one of the butterflies he raised in his garden. This sense of fantasy, evoking a sort of magical realism, runs throughout his oeuvre. Hutchinson's work invites the viewer to adopt something of his own perspective, allowing one to apprehend the infinite possibilities suggested by nature, particularly that of a small scale, personal sort – he has no interest in the more monumental expressions commonly associated with Land Art, and the diaristic foundations of his practice give it a pronounced individuality. Though his work inevitably evokes associations with an array of artists and writers, from Robert Smithson to the Transcendentalists, among countless others, it seems entirely unfitting to classify him as a member of any movement.
The works in the exhibition feature painting and drawing more prominently than in earlier works, although collage remains the primary medium. Dream Landscape pairs cut out images of flowers and insects with a painted background of trees and a sailboat approaching on the horizon; the coexistence of the flowers, which were photographed in Hutchinson's garden, with the fantastical image of the sailboat lends the image a current of ambiguity, as if unplaceable in time or existence. The artist's own words, written at the bottom (“I grew these flowers at some cost, but the insects came for free. The garden intersects with insects”) does little to abate this sense of mystery, instead hinting at a greater interconnectivity. Fantastic Garden and Beauty set cut-out images of flowers, both photographed and painted, against vivid pink backgrounds, embellishing their inherent beauty and showcasing their rich formal possibilities.
Hutchinson's taste for ironic, dry humor is also on display in the exhibition. Flight II shows the artist with raised arms amidst a variety of flying creatures, including a bat and winged horses and cats. They are rendered in an almost childlike manner, and the text at the bottom of the work (“If bats can fly why can't I”) furthers this sense of naivety. Though compelling in themselves, these works show the range of expression that Hutchinson is able to refract from his natural subjects; along with impressions of the surreal and sublime, as evinced in other works, is a playful, almost curious irony.