Peter Summersís Ďno where now hereí is the second installation of small to medium scale paintings produced whilst living in Shanghai and in the most recent months in Melbourne.
Peter Summersís work exhales a full acceptance of the futility of painting in the 21st century. He is responding to the situation not with cries of protest, lament or frustration, but with whispering assertions of the memory and potential instinct in the materials of painting, thanks to its long history.



You have recently returned from Shanghai and lived there for 3 1/2 years did you enjoy living in China?

I never fell in love with Shanghai. It is an amazing city and I felt quite fortunate to live there. I had plenty of time to paint whilst living there and that I am thankful for.

Plenty of time to paint?

Yeah definitely. When it came to painting it was quite liberating in the beginning not to have other eyes on your work, no critiques or Ďwell doneí supportive slaps on the back. It was just me and painting. But of course the doubts and the feeling of disconnectedness crept in and the loneliness of being in the studio was overwhelming.

We were talking earlier about your time in Shanghai and the sense of isolation and loneliness you experienced what impact did that have on your practice?

I felt vulnerable and sensitive whilst living in Shanghai, Iím not sure if this appears in the work. But my determination to paint emerged from those moments. The uncomfortable situation I was in was also the catalyst for pushing myself, digging deeper and understanding my relationship to painting. Before leaving for Shanghai I was slightly comfortable and definitely complacent. I think this was reflected in many aspects of my life and to large extent in my paintings. The new environment was a challenge, but eventually artistically a very rewarding one. I donít think I could have achieved what I did in Shanghai had I remained in Melbourne. Being uncomfortable forces you to change the situation. I wasnít always successful but progress was made. I think it is evident in the work.

What changed, what did you discover during your three and half years?

The size of my work changed from large scale paintings to small and medium sized paintings and the most obvious is the introduction of brighter colour.

I noticed in the last exhibition at Fivewalls a shift to the smaller scale. Why?

Good question. Iíve always admired the Abstract Expressionists. The large heroic paintings, creating a totally overwhelming experience. But I felt aspiring to do the same inauthentic, itís just not me. Iím more about being intimate, approachable and I hope without ego. I donít want to bully you into liking my paintings.

And the colour?

That I canít entirely explain. The environment Iím sure was an influence and in the last exhibition I did refer to a time spent in the mountains outside of Shanghai that had an impact on my work. The choice of colour for a paintingÖI can never pinpoint the reason. I think selecting a colour, changing the colour during creation is reflective of my disposition at that moment. Iím drawn to a colour on some sub-consciousness level, I respond intuitively. Through a layering process I adjust the
frequency of the chosen colour. Iím not interested in questioning the use of certain colours. It comes down to what feels right.


The title can you elaborate on that?

It refers to my time living in Shanghai and returning to Melbourne. Living in Shanghai I never felt fully connected to the city. I could observe and feel a real buzz to the city, but I had nowhere to plug in. Now back in Melbourne of course I donít have this problem.

A most obvious question to ask a painter is when is a painting finished?

It is a gut feeling. I do like a painting that remains open to a possibility of continuation or incompleteness. I could never suggest that my paintings are an achievement of perfection, hitting the right frequency in colour or that every mark has its right place. I know when a painting can hold itís own on a wall and can be left alone. My ability to make that judgement is getting better. Hell in the early years I fÖked up many a good painting, having this need to get it right.

And what next?

Iím thinking it is time to break free of some of the traditional supports of painting. I can see myself working on different surfaces and using different types of painting mediums. That is not to say that I wonít continue to paint on canvas. The idea is to continue putting oneself into a state of uncomfortable practice to push oneself to take the work to another level.