Peter Nelson’s new series of ink on paper works result from the interplay of two very different creative processes. Working with computer graphics by day as part of his PHD research at the School of Creative Media in Hong Kong, Nelson found the need to digitally ‘switch off’ at night and engage with the task of painting, which he originally trained in.
Things that look like rocks comprises of five large-scale works of ink on paper. Their compressed landscape orientations and vast areas of negative space reference traditional Chinese scroll painting. Drifting across these sparse surfaces are ambiguous sculptural shapes variously resembling rocks, mountains and clouds. The forms also recall Scholar’s stones – rock formations traditionally appreciated for their awkward symmetries and natural textures. Looking more closely, each painting is softly gridded on a perspectival plane, identical to the grids used in the production of 3D computer renderings. In some works, fragments of skyscrapers, synonymous with the contemporary landscape, are accurately inserted into the grid. These neat constructions contrast with the gnarled, rock-like forms that spill over the gridded lines.
In these paintings Nelson creates a delicate fusion of contemporary and traditional worlds. He points to
rationalised urbanism at odds with organic form. More specifically, he addresses the dominance of the virtual over the directly experienced, and the gap between these two modes of engagement. For Nelson, painting is an essential corrective to his methodical production on the computer. An investigation into classical Chinese art and philosophy is another complimentary countermeasure. As much an exploration of the relationship of the analogue to the digital, Nelson’s practice is a meditation on the rich contradictions of the country and culture in which he has chosen to reside.
Peter Nelson studied painting and drawing at UNSW Art & Design and graduated with Honours, the University Medal for Fine Arts and a Masters by Research. He has been an artist in residence at Red Gate Gallery (Beijing), Cite Internationale Des Arts (Paris), Taipei Artist Village (Taipei), Organhaus (Chongqing) and Serial Space (Sydney). He has held solo exhibitions in Sydney, Taipei, Hong Kong and Chongqing. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the School of Creative Media, Hong Kong, specialising in the interaction between landscape art history and computer games.
Press release courtesy Gallery 9.