View from the Shangri-la Hotel Santa Monica

Time Out Review 2002

Peter Wilson

The Market South: London

Peter Wilson’s paintings of urban America seem familiar. Sun-soaked and devoid of people, they are a far cry from the manic south-east London streets the other side of the window. Somewhere between snapshot, film still and traditional painting they describe places that might exist but could just aswell have been extracted from the memory of an ardent film buff or gallery-goer.

Whether observing the manicured gardens of smallville or the architectural chaos of some beachfront paradise, the pictures always seem removed. Rather than home in on the activities, Wilson describes cars, trees and skies with obsessive touch of a private dick accumulating evidence – in the absence of people, voyeurism becomes more about gathering data than about spying. Yet while the view might appear as if through a lens, the paintings are not delights in the irregularities of the painting process; neither particularrly memorable nor necessarily faithful, the scenes are like out-takes from a ’50s movie in which the continuity specialist went AWOL. And when you look at the improbable magenta of a midday shadow, you realise there are some things that only painting can achieve.