A circular motif in early work led to a series of cycle paintings followed by collages that were built out creating spaces framing or partially concealing plant and other structures
Work shown in ’Bodyworks’ in 2001 arose from a preoccupation with hidden complexity. Subsequent paintings were stimulated by the imagery of hundreds of small schematic figures drawn in patients’ notes in the 1970’s and 80’s. These working drawings, used to select treatment, displayed visually what scans and other probes had detected.
The notion of concealment and transmission of sound, script and signals from unseen spaces recurs in relation both to the human body and landscape. A long association with the Var region of Provence provides a rich source of forest and mountain imagery often with a human presence, including the powerful story of the metamorphosis of Philomena into a nightingale.
Gouache and acrylic mono-printing and the use of netting such as scrim, sacking and gauze as well as foam board, is used in some of the work to create an interface between surface and interior. Solvent-based ink is applied in some paintings. This dries almost immediately and has to be drawn in with quick movements creating the effect of calligraphy.
Miroslav Holub believes "in the use of words and statements, poetry and science move in different and almost opposite directions. But they do not aim for opposite ends." I can think of no better example of this and no better description of the scientific process of investigation than Holub's poem "Brief Reflections on The Test Tube" ---- what better description is there of a scientist at work? At the same time, as poetry, it embodies the ineffable mystery of Michael Peckham's paintings, or for that matter the sculptures of Joseph Beuys and the architecture of Dom Hans Van der Laan. No wonder Michael Peckham, as an artist-scientist regards Miroslav Holub with deep respect.
"Man in The Universe" 1991
All images © Michael Peckham 2016
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