Geometric Abstraction for a Shattered World

Gary Petersen, “Both of Us” (2022), acrylic and oil on canvas, 54 x 90 inches (all images courtesy McKenzie Fine Art, New York; photos by Jason Mandella)

I have been following Gary Petersen’s work since his debut exhibition at McKenzie Fine Art in 2016. I attribute the difference between the works he has previously shown at this gallery (and which I reviewed) and the ones in his current exhibition there, Gary Petersen (May 20–June 26, 2022), to a growing confidence in his ability to further skew his layered geometric compositions. Having begun with a vocabulary of solid-colored, stacked quadrilaterals, Petersen has introduced new elements with each exhibition. These elements suggest that he is trying to find ways to undermine the painting’s rectangular authority without resorting to shaped canvases, as did previous generations. 

As complex as Petersen’s compositions are, it is not surprising to learn that drawings lead the way. Working in either black, white, and gray or colored pencil, the drawings in the current show convey the artist’s constant probing for possibilities.

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