Nipped into London to catch the last day of the Peter Hide Sculpture exhibition at Poussin Gallery. There were works covering the last thirty years or so . as Peter Hide lives and works in Edmonton, Canada, it was a rare chance to see his work in the flesh.
There is a marvellous remark made by him in the catalogue - saying early on he “concocted originality” I found this a candid and appealing remark.
The work here was strong. An assemblage sculptor with the obvious lineage therein – though there was a minimal use of “tasty bits of steel” that can often be found in artists that use found parts in their abstraction.
I did not really consider issues of weight or mass in apprehending the sculptures. As a painter I probably come at it from a slightly different angle anyway – for me , sculpture is about light and shadows – either you catch the light or you trap it – that seems the challenge.
There was the familiar finish of rusted steel, that seductive warm earthy tone. This may have been broken up with a counterpoint of painted (worn) section or part - a bottle green, manganese blue or off white all added pictorial elements. The stronger works for me avoided these nuances and found their expression in the more fundamental issues set up by the language – namely units, shapes,viewpoints, texture and scale. One work had a sulphurous finish with toshed-on paint coating the whole work creating a beautiful unity. The size of the works were pleasingly larger than I assumed – these sculptures felt like vertical cubist figures that were imposing but intimate at the same time – a skill that betrays a deep understanding of this art form and its traditions.
It will remain a huge challenge for a sculptor working in steel to dominate the material to the extent needed to make the work escape those cubist origins and breathe its own air. Hide is very good at relating the vertical sections in his work to the horizontal plane of the floor – they never just sit there, rather they work off and with that plane and set up some very satisfying passages with sliding units moving towards the floor in their dynamic rather than up from it.
Well worth the trip – I took the whole family in and we also had a nice picnic in Southwark Park. What a nice way to spend an afternoon.