Lest We Forget the Gods
Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Palm Desert, California
January 6 – February 6, 2017
In Petry’s new works he extends his recent archery performance Libation to Eros originally commissioned by the Alentejo Triennial, in Portugal (2014). In the performance Petry fired 54 arrows into a wall of cork while telling the story of the Greek God of desire and love. For his paintings Petry suspended bladders of paint in front of the white canvases and then fired arrows into them, bursting the paint onto the surface. The paintings are at once a document of the action of their creation as well as painterly objects in themselves that speak to a history of painting. The canvas surface is punctured as in Luciano Fontana’s Spatialism works from the early 1960’s. Fontana described his Spatial Environments and Spatial Concept works as “neither painting nor sculpture, but luminous form in space1 ”. However rather than using a razor to slash the surface or a sharped tool to puncture it, Petry defers to chance like Cage and also references Duchamp. How the bladder will explode, how the paint will run into other bursts, simply happens, only the colour and placement of the bladders is under Petry’s control, and of course the accuracy of his shot.
The works also reference William Burroughs gunshot paintings on wood from the late 1980’s but differ immensely where violence is at play. Burroughs choice of painterly utensil was not only an American one, but one based on his personal history. 2 In Burroughs’ work the violence of the gunshot is to the fore, in Petry’s it is minimized and historicized by the bow. Petry aims to restore the original meaning of the Greek story where the metaphor for love is being struck by a deadly weapon, the arrow, only to be reborn anew, in love.
Melissa Morgan FIne Art
Melissa Morgan Fine Art, 2017