It seems a nearly two decade long imaginative fascination of mine with the sea has run its course - more to the point it has been a fascination linked to my painting drive. Altogether a fruitfull relationship, giving rise to quite a few paintings and, at this point at least, to imagery that I doubt can be accessed again.
For quite long periods in the evolution of modern painting, in particular with the ascendancy of abstraction, the role of subject matter - especially that which 'looks like something' - has been downplayed. Now and for some time, attitudes to abstract values and imagery in painting have become more balanced, the necessity of an interplay between those forces and what can come out out that, widely acknowledged.
In this show there are several of the 'final' sea paintings. Whether they convey an elegiac mood I can't say - you will have to decide. Also being shown are recent paintings that have followed on and can be described as 'back to the land', but the land as it is now, with the sound of a busy road never too far away.
Peter Archer, May 2019
Landscape offers us a view of the world that is larger than ourselves, more durable and capable of renewing itself with the cycle of the seasons. Hence the importance of landscape painting in an age that has lost religion: we need things that dwarf us to be reminded of our insignificance, and the brevity of our time upon the stage. Landscape - and by extension, landscape painting - offers us a glimpse of some sort of immortality, of the rocks that remain, of the sea that continues to crash on the shore, long after we have departed. Peter Archer allows the trace of man to intrude in the elemental by nearly always including a man-made structure, such as a waste-water outfall pipe, or else the distant lights of cars or habitations. These often edge and frame his compositions as if man were reduced to waiting in the wings. In one painting where a seemingly abstract line bisects the picture space, the reference is to the towing cable of a ship. These human intrusions are not accidental but deliberate strategies to enliven the picture and articulate the space.
Andrew Lambirth, extract from essay, 2010
Peter Archer specialises in a kind of anachronistic, mundane and pragmatic romanticism. What interests him is man’s relationship with nature, and he pursues it, by picking subjects - power lines, tower blocks, traffic - that are deliberately drab and familiar. William Wordsworth did exactly the same. In fact what Wordsworth called his conversation with general nature sounds remarkably like Archer’s account of his own working method, both in the landscape and afterwards in the studio: ‘The twists and turns of making a painting, and bringing it to completion, involve a dialogue, sometimes a contest, depending on how it’s going between the artist and his intentions and the painting’.
Archer’s painting is, as Wordsworth famously said of his poetry, ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling’, an initial response to landscape recollected in tranquility and processed in the studio until it gradually gives way to a more controlled and regulated emotion: ‘in this mood successful composition generally begins’.
Hilary Spurling, extract from essay, 2017
Peter Archer exhibits regularly in London and has had several exhibitions in Europe and two in New York. He was shortlisted for the Jerwood Prize in 2001 and last year was runner up in the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize. His work is in the collection of the Royal Academy, the Arts Council, the University of Utrecht and corporate and private collections in Europe and America.