The Human Body: Dialogue with Nature: Gan Yu & Jim Peters

Installation Views

Ethan Cohen Gallery is pleased to present The Human Body: Dialogue with Nature, a dual exhibition showcasing the works of Gan Yu and Jim Peters, both of whom have created an extensive body of work observing the nude body. While the artists share a common subject matter, Yu and Peters' approach differ substantially.


Jim Peters creates intimate and sensual paintings of nude figures in darkened interiors. He often depicts a female form, almost always his wife, presented in clutter-strewn rooms with weary beds and peeling wall paint. At times, there are photographs or other constructions blended into his paintings. Sometimes, the scene is not on canvas but in boxy diorama-like construction assemblages composed of wood, paint, and other found materials - creating a small stage, a window through which viewers can experience the sensuality of Peters' vision. Peters paints completely from memory - they are all paintings that are a product of his mind, the remnants of his experience, a remembrance of a mid-day moment, an argument, an embrace, a conversation, throes of passion. The free-floating moments salvaged from consciousness also inform the process of painting itself for the artist - one can observe the spontaneous layering of the paint, raw and without pretension, onto the canvas. Peters frequently uses thick dark oils to create a raw depiction of his physical reality. The result is a tactile, immediate, sensual, often erotic depiction of daily musings of the artist's life, his routine life, his love life, and his creative life, all of which are hand in hand. Jim Peters' work has always been about space, the reaction of people - his figures - to that space. He desires the intimacy, perhaps even the claustrophobia that places a tension on the narrative in his paintings. Peters states that for him, darkened interiors are both magical and mysterious; they compress the sensuality, and heighten the risks and pleasures of relationship. Jim Peters has been teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) since 2007.


Gan Yu also creates sensual, tactile nudes set against a dark backdrop, but his method is substantially different. He creates statuesque and dense nude bodies on handmade black Chinese paper, a sensitive field that is textured to suggest a three- dimensional quality. Gan Yu states that these works are an expression of classical aestheticism with a contemporary depiction. his figures do, in fact, look like fragmented nude sculptures of the past, whilst uniquely being placed on delicate, textural handmade paper, meant for ink. Gan Yu is well known as a painter - especially as an ink painter - and all of his paintings are about the confluence of painting techniques of East and West. A New York- based artist, curator, and professor at The Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Gan Yu takes a special interest in investigating the east/west polarities of art from antiquity to the present. He occupies this zone of contrast and commonality, forging new forms of image making, blending both artistic traditions. Gan Yu's works on view do use mix media techniques and materials from around the globe, and the expression of the nude is realized masterfully. These works, much like Jim Peters' in the show, are about the ordinary elevated to a realm of the ethereal, through Gan Yu's strong use of line and grasp of form. The focus gravitates around the natural, the ordinary, the human body. It's a subject sphere that both allows the artist to observe and honor the mundane, the daily life of human existence. At the same time, we are aware of a simultaneous exploration, that of the mimetic process itself, of observing and depicting reality.


The Human Body: Dialogue with Nature will be on view at Ethan Cohen Gallery at the KuBe Art Center, from June 4th - August 28th. The opening reception will take place June 4th, 4 - 6 pm.