Peter Lamb is a London based painter whose work challenges painting as a medium by creating thoughtful illusions that defy perception of scale. In his manner of creation he walks a thin line between the obsessively thoughtful and the purely coincidental.
His process is based on a never ending reworking of images, mainly photographs taken within his studio. His work starts with photographing details in his studio that are best described as events or coincidental combinations of colour and texture. This source material functions as an abstraction of the process and is rooted in earlier labour that has taken place. Scrutinizing his mesmerising surfaces will reveal an endless amount of details, surfaces and textures.
These photographs are subsequently and continuously reworked, reprinted and painted over, creating works that are both painterly and photographic in nature. These actions result in images in which paint stops functioning as an entity that represents something outside itself. Even in the most abstract forms of painting the paint is part of a scene or an image. By photographing, rescaling and reworking, Lamb shows the paint in its barest form, as pure matter and pure colour.
The first works by Lamb that were completely based on photographs of occurrences in his studio appeared about 4 years ago. As this practice develops it becomes more entangled, as bits and traces of earlier works appear in current works the surfaces become more and more like a web of self-references.
Marnix Van Boetzelaer 2014
Peter Lamb’s paintings promote inscrutability about meaning with concentrations of strokes, shapes and textures. Gestures are his own and, conceivably, other people’s; authorship cannot be vouched for throughout an expanse of painting. Some elements are clearly not actual, physical registrations (and, therefore, marks of authenticity) but marks that have been photographed, with the photograph then worked upon by being overlaid with new matter. What is more, the photograph reproduces shapes that could fall outside the general ambit of aesthetic consideration.
Lamb’s paintings also exemplify the attitude among contemporary painters that a single practice can span different forms of representation. Adopting as his ground photographs of his own studio floor place, his source material exists in an ambiguous position with the actions that take place once the photograph has been selected, enlarged and made ready to support collage and painting. After all, that original image is directly representational, depicting a place that exists, but is subsequently emptied of its figurative identity when the artist isolates particular geometric elements in an abstract way.
Similarly, Lamb conflates two sorts of space. There is the actual space of the studio that was photographed and there is the illusory space presented by the reproduction. That second space is an allusion to, or memory of, the original place depicted by the mechanical process initiated by the digital lens. Finally, the flat surface of the print becomes the ineluctable plane of Modernism, a material expanse upon which shapes that are a representation of reality have been mechanically produced. Lamb’s subsequent over-painting, is, itself, not spatial but primarily linear, freeing itself of the angles and perspectives in the photographic view to project, with gesture and material, into the space of the spectator.
Martin Holman 2012