Artes Magazine Review
New York, New York
Peter G. Ray, Canadian Artist Creates a New Vocabulary of Painting
The persistent autumn rain had turned the streets of lower Manhattan to patent leather, slick and reflecting a maze of city lights, like slender, broken threads of yellow, red and white at my feet. With daily regularity, in late afternoon, Houston Street serves as a busy cross-island artery, draining the living city of its commuter life blood; as an endless stream of cars inches toward the Holland tunnel to the west and the Williamsburg Bridge to the east.
I dodge the gleaming fenders of creeping traffic to find my way to bridgegallery, a Lower East Side destination that has long championed the cause of emerging and established artists, alike. In her narrow studio, brightly-lit against the fading light of day, galleryist and curator, Marilyn Garber, once again offers an evening event, showcasing unique contemporary art. I am there to meet artist, Peter G. Ray (known as G-Ray), Bulgarian by birth, but for many years a Canadian citizen who splits his time between Montreal and New York City.
His gentle demeanor and Old World graciousness belie his artistic conception of a cosmic realm shaped by a rich symbolic language of gyrating protoplasmic vortices and fanciful, sexually-charged biomorphic life forms that sweep the viewer up into a vertiginous, whirlwind excursion to the edge of a universe of his own creation. The lens of G-Ray’s painterly vision is like that of the Hubble telescope turned earthward, capturing the depths of the human condition in a series of serendipitous double exposures.
His large, glossy canvases pulsate with the barely-controlled chaos of rich, complex color planes, floating planetary spheres and an ambiguous genetic soup of intra-uteral tissue forms, colliding and re-ordering themselves as though to illustrate the divinely-ordered command in Genesis verse in the moments following, “Let there be light!” Reaffirming, yet threatening, one is left to wonder, in his pre-Darwinian swirl of deep space-meets-coital life force, what supernatural organisms might ultimately spring from the “Big Bang” energy of G-Ray’s fantastic universe.
Infinity is made material in G-Ray’s paintings, like layered veils of time and distance—invisible to the eye—until dissected and pinned back, like a scientific display, to reveal the pulsating source of life that unites us all as human beings. Umbilical cords spin like tornadoes, arising from distant Nebulae, only to narrow and thread their way through a maze of protean webs. What might have been hearts , in brilliant shades of crimson, hang suspended in fields of rich black; but now bursting like exploding stars to scatter nurturing energy to the farthest corners of the canvas. A pattern of life-sustaining aureoles endlessly replicates itself across a field of other-worldly figurative elements, suggesting a vibrant reproductive energy emanating from the depths of space, itself. Objects, like outsized map pins appear to hold portions of the construct in place, as if to say, “Viewer, you are here on our celestial tour.” The source of our very own existence, our soulful humanity, G-Ray would have us believe, can be found in the energy of these distant, yet familiar, celestial forms.