Throughout a career spanning almost thirty years, Peter Adsett has enlightened us about the unique properties of paint. In his hands, it is never a passive medium invented to support colours.
The Blue Room demonstrates this, firstly, by the deliberate limitation of means to just different shades of blue (white not being a colour as such), from deepest indigo, through an electric cerulean, to palest egg-shell. When deployed non-imitatively, purely as a material in abstract work, paint is shown to operate, to act, as if it had energy independent of any form it may depict. Adsett’s paint refuses to remain inert, straining against its framing edges, expanding in every direction into the supporting wall, even as it co-opts the white as an integral element in this 'interior'.
The reference to Picasso’s famous painting of the same title is not fortuitous but is an acknowledgement of the Spaniard’s gamesmanship, evident in 1901, as he explored singular moves made by his 'rival', Cezanne.
In Adsett’s series, each painting undertakes a different move in a particular game, that of challenging the historical paradox of transparency. Why blue? Is it because in the studios of the classical masters it was used for what was unpaintable: air? Every detail in the seven paintings challenges a viewer to ,tie me down if you can', as each blue works with, and against, its neighbour – blue, black or white – to assert opacity or translucence. No resolution can be reached, which is the source of endless gratification for a viewer, who becomes caught in a sustained gaze, as part of the game. — Mary Alice Lee
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