Peter Halley, Silver Prison, 1999
Silver Prison, 1999. Signed and dated “Peter Halley 99” on the reverse. acrylic, metallic acrylic and Roll-a-Tex on two attached canvases 44 1/8 x 39 7/8 in. (112.1 x 101.3 cm)
PROVENANCE Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Peter Halley’s paintings serve as flowcharts with a means to decipher the social world through constructed and integrated conduits of vibrant color and geometric form. Many layers lie under the surface, glittering with fluorescent and metallic color. The surface, painted with Roll-a-Tex, appears almost like a wall relief. The conduits and grids running across the plane suggest the threedimensional aspects of a collage. The surface dazzles through its radiant and flashing signs. In the present lot, Silver Prison, 1999, the composition resembles the internal blueprints of a prison cell. Since the early 1980s, Halley has called the rectangular units which occupy his paintings “cells.” The word cell itself has a range of meanings from a small prison to a microscopic structure. In Halley’s work, and especially in the present lot, Silver Prison, 1999, all of the various meanings of this four letter word are interwoven. Silver Prison, 1999, celebrates and enjoys the good use of the polysemic nuances of the word “cell.” While the title indicates a small and confined space, the vibrant, fluorescent yellow, combined with the luminous silver pigment, suggests more of a good natured space, than that to which someone has been imprisoned. The present lot also challenges our visual understanding, by being rectangular and uncomplicated, yet comprised of two unequal canvases discretely melded together. Silver Prison, 1999, functions as a matrix of horizontal bars and vertical columns, similar to the social landscape where everything is sustained and constrained by a system of networks. By metaphorically embodying the physical and mental structure of the social world, Halley’s Silver Prison, 1999, reflects a vision of society comparable to a map, but a map which contains every conceivable kind of information.