The Art Stable has held three solo exhibiitons Peter Sedgley's work at The Art Stable in addition to that presented by Kelly Ross in London in 2000. Since 2018 Tate Modern have been hanging a big kinetic piece, Colour Cycle III, from 1970, in it's own room. Some people may remember that in the 2010 exhibition here we had a study for that piece hanging in the downstairs gallery. The forthcoming exhibition will focus on works on paper from the 1960's to the 1980's including paintings and prints.
Peter Sedgley is a leading figure in the Optical and Kinetic movements who came to prominence during the 1960s. Born in London, Sedgley studied architecture before devoting himself solely to visual art from 1959. Peter Sedgley’s first solo exhibitions in 1965 were held at McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery, London and Howard Wise Gallery, New York. He was included in the influential Responsive Eye exhibiiton at MOMA, New York in 1964 and was a prizewinner at the Tokyo Biennale in 1965.
It was during the sixties that his initial interest in light and movement were developed. The transformation of these two intangible forces, together with his search for different ways of using colour as a carrier for optical communication, have become his life-long themes.
In the 1960’s Sedgley started experimenting with dichroic glass which has the unique property of transmitting one colour while reflecting its complimentary. This opened up new ways of working and led to the creation of kinetic pieces during the 1980’s and 90’s and since 2000 to the construction of what Sedgley has called ‘Windomes’. The works are both mirrors, in which viewers can see themselves and windows into a passageway beyond.
In 1971 Sedgley was invited by the DAAD to Berlin where he took up residence and during the 80’s and 90’s won large scale public commissions, mainly in Germany, working with light and sound in collaboration with composers. In 2000 Kelly Ross presented the first solo exhibition of Peter Sedgley’s work in London for seventeen years, to coincide with his 70th birthday and The Art Stable has presented two solo exhibitions of his work. He was included an exhibition reviewing the 60’s, Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era at Tate Liverpool in 2005 and Traces du Sacre at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2010. He has many works in public collections including Tate, London, where a large kinetic piece from 1970 is currently on display, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Government Art Collection and the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis.
All of Peter Sedgley’s art, and with greater clarity starting with the “circles” and the “targets,” opens to exploration of the tonal and spatial virtues of colour. In the years to follow, Sedgley shifts into a continuing, conscious process of expansion and widening of the boundaries of the work, investigating the possibilities of light and colour to generate space, sensation and experience.
The scientific and technological matrix of much Kinetic and Optical art is translated by Sedgley into a new spatial freedom and chromatic sensibility, more emotional than analytical in nature. This is the direction taken by the first experiments of the artist with materials and media “external” to the painting and to its more traditional materials, towards a continuous expansion of its format and an augmentation of the emotional and perceptive dimension.
After having traced back through the work and research of Peter Sedgley, though in an extremely synthetic way, it is clear that his entire path is directed towards a constant, progressive liberation of the potential of colour and its perceptive effects. It seems evident that the various series of works created over thirty years ……. are guided by the effort to liberate the expression of light and colour from a limited, pre-set system of variants, making it come (back) alive in front of the spectator and in the exhibition space, in a sequence of events that it as free and indeterminate as possible.
They are introspective experiences, spaces of meditation that stage and enact our relationship with the complexity of nature and its phenomenon and our role as spectators.
Luca Cerizza (detail from the introduction to ‘Singing Light’, an exhibition at the Diehl Gallery, Berlin, 2014)