JP Art Gallery - New Year Exhibition 2021 Final - Flipbook - Page 7
Essay: Peter Clossick’s Moving Gaze
Peter Clossick focuses on faces, the single human figure, and the nature of physical
sensuousness itself. The models are still, seated or lying; their eyes cast down or even
blanked out, while the composition is enlivened by the physical act of perception. His
is the moving and heuristic gaze, the act of discovering the world through the
exploration of possibilities.
“It’s about transformation in every session. Shall I keep something? Shall I push it
forward to gain something and lose something else? There are always a multitude of
directions in which one can go, you have to make decisions to reduce the possibilities,”
Clossick’s ideas change in the process of working and experimentation on the canvas,
opening up a more imaginative world. He revels in exciting and unlimited possibilities,
the freedoms and attendant risks which are open to the artist. He wants to capture a
sense of relationship between himself and the subject rather than describing the
external appearance, the edge of things. It is a two-way interaction which is not from
outside looking in or inside looking out, but meeting in the middle. This is never a
simple description of the outer skin of things, but rather a multi-layered, multi-toned
articulation of physical realities.
Perhaps influenced by his training at the Camberwell School of Art, the starting point
remains the close observation of the living body through drawing. Clossick incorporates
uncertainty, multiple moments and probability into his nudes and portraits through a
protracted process, involving incessant drawing with pen and ink, oil stick and
eventually paint. His thickly encrusted surfaces can take years to dry out. He also enjoys
the thrill of working with great speed and infectious impetuosity.
Although his starting point is empirical observation, introspection reigns supreme in
Clossick’s monumental studies and as in Giacometti’s portraits of his brother Diego,
the familiar becomes alien. The model sprawls awkwardly foreshortened on a raft-like
rust-coloured mattress, floating away on an expanse of long blue brushstrokes. She
seems far away, lost in her own world. But, unlike the harshly-lit bodies of Lucien Freud,
Clossick’s nudes are dreamers and thinkers, with an almost religious quality to them.
They possess an otherworldly awareness of the transience of things.