Gallery Press Release

THE EYE BEGINS TO SEE: NEW PAINTINGS BY CHRIS PETERS

“The work is absolutely stunning and profoundly moving....a true heir to the great Tonalist tradition in American art.”

- David Cleveland, author The History of American Tonalism: 1880–1920

For his first solo exhibition with Sullivan Goss, L.A.-based artist Chris Peters will deliver nineteen paintings – the very brightest of which is illuminated by a full moon whose lower half is hidden behind the silhouette of a tree. These paintings imagine a liminal space – the border between where the eye begins to see and where some unseen and perhaps more profound reality ends.

Whistler called these kinds of paintings nocturnes in an attempt to entwine the feelings of Romantic music with his painting. Before that, “moonlights” – as night paintings were once known – were relatively rare. It is probably not a coincidence that their popularity waxed with the popularity of Gothic romance novels, Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and the vogue among Pictorialist photographers for images that were dark and dreamy. In American art, many of the paintings of the period are now described as Tonalist.

The Gallery has long held an interest in night paintings. In 2001, a very successful exhibition of night paintings whetted the local appetite for these kinds of images. Subsequently, the gallery’s representation of the Estates of Lockwood de Forest, NA (1850-1932) and Leon Dabo, NA (1864-1960) as well as contemporary Tonalists like Nicole Strasburg, Sarah Vedder, and Jon Francis confirmed Sullivan Goss as one of the preeminent destinations for collectors interested in these aesthetics.

So, the night paintings of Chris Peters have precedents in both the history of American Art as well as the gallery’s exhibition program, but these are fresh. They are undeniably contemporary. They are also more indebted to the insights of infrared photography. Finally, they represent a striking turn for an artist trained in clear and crisp Realism.

New research suggests that there are different “chronotypes.” Some people are day people. Others are night people. These new paintings from Chris Peters should certainly appeal to the latter group. A catalog with a brief essay by Jeremy Tessmer and notes from the artist is available for this exhibit.

Upcoming Solo Show

My solo show of 18 new tonalist paintings at Sullivan Goss Gallery will go up on October 18 and the opening night event will be First Thursday November 1. The images are posted below. The title of the show is “The Eye Begins To See” - this is partly based on opening line of the poem “In a Dark Time” by Theodore Roethke and partly on my personal view of the painting process.

The printed show catalog is available from the gallery:

The Eye Begins To See: New Works by Chris Peters

For additional information about the paintings on this page please contact:

Sullivan Goss Gallery
11 East Anapamu Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

t: 805.730.1460
e: Sullivan Goss Gallery

The Eye Begins to See

American Tonalism / The Valley Beyond / Chris Peters

The Valley Beyond


2018
63 x 84 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Early Sunday Morning / Chris Peters

Early Sunday Morning


2018
48 x 63 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / The Watchman / Chris Peters

The Watchman


2018
47 x 47 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Night River / Chris Peters

Night River


2018
38 x 50 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / In The Cool Air / Chris Peters

In The Cool Air


2018
25 x 28 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Whistler Bridge / Chris Peters

Whistler Bridge


2018
25 x 25 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Blakelock Lake / Chris Peters

Blakelock Lake


2018
24 x 20 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Last Year at Marienbad / Chris Peters

Last Year at Marienbad


2018
17 x 20 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Stormy Sky Over Marsh / Chris Peters

Stormy Sky Over Marsh


2018
16 x 19 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Night Orchard / Chris Peters

Night Orchard


2018
15 x 20 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Chaparral at Night / Chris Peters

Chaparral at Night


2018
14 x 20 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Moon over Small Lake / Chris Peters

Moon over Small Lake


2018
18 x 14 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Forest Edge / Chris Peters

Forest Edge


2018
14 x 18 inches
oil on linen over panel
sold
American Tonalism / Moon Over Marsh / Chris Peters

Moon Over Marsh


2018
14 x 16 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / The Stillness of Night / Chris Peters

The Stillness of Night


2018
12 x 16 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Night Lake / Chris Peters

Night Lake


2018
12 x 16 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Moonrise Through Trees / Chris Peters

Moonrise Through Trees


2018
11 x 12 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Study for Night River / Chris Peters

Study for Night River


2018
8 x 10 inches
oil on linen over panel
American Tonalism / Night Study / Chris Peters

Night Study


2018
9 x 7 inches
oil on linen over panel

Finding Beauty in Dark Places

My work is influenced by this wonderful poem by Emily Dickinson:

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

Every painting I create is an attempt to capture the feeling I get when reading it. The poetic nature of Tonalism is ideal for this, with its limited palette, indistinct edges, and dark scenes devoid of any evidence of human (or even animal) habitation.

The paintings are created in the studio because nature rarely presents the “perfect picture”. My goal is always to capture a mood rather than a specific scene, and individual elements are there to serve the needs of the painting as a whole.