Peter Halley first showed in London at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1989 and in the
subsequent years, works of his have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. His
first exhibition at Waddington Galleries was in 1999. This will be his sixth exhibition at the Galleries
in Cork Street.
Waddington Custot Galleries commissioned the present exhibition of exciting new paintings in
2012 and they were completed in 2013. In it, Halley explores the overstimulation of mass
communication in the digital age with fluorescent conduits that run along the canvas, connecting
cells which could represent a computer chip or a battery cell; but also a cage, or an air
conditioning unit. The cells or prisons contained within his paintings are influenced by Michel
Foucault and can refer to the systems of control and power behind the architecture of buildings
such as prisons.
Halley uses the powdery paint-thickening agent Roll-a-Tex, a decorator’s tool, to create a
textured surface on some areas of a painting. This paint mix is a very literal reference to
architecture and the building industry. The Roll-a-Tex is also a satirical reference to impasto
painting and stucco and also recreates the surface of a motel ceiling. When viewed in contrast to
the smooth planes of the rest of the canvas the Roll-a-Tex can be the ‘white noise’ of a television
losing signal or a lost telephone connection.
The titles of these new paintings are derived from American television shows. These titles are
taken from TV listings and have no real reference to the paintings themselves. Just as Ken Noland
took his titles from cheap detective novels, and were unassociative.
In our opinion they are some of the most exciting paintings Halley has produced.