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Indepth Arts News:

"Peter Booth: Human / Nature"
2003-11-29 until 2004-02-29
National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne, VI, AU Australia

On the first anniversary of the National Gallery of Victoria’s home of Australian art, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, a major exhibition of works by Melbourne artist, Peter Booth will be on show. The title of this exhibition brings into play the three interconnecting themes that drive the artist’s imagination: humanity; nature; and human nature. Features in the exhibition: 81 paintings and 161 works on paper, from 1970 to the present. Peter Booth is represented in private and public galleries around the world. His works are held in the National Gallery of Victoria, all the other State galleries, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, as well as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan, and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, all in New York.

Booth was born in Sheffield, England, in November, 1940. The Booth family migrated to Australia in 1957, and settled in Altona. He worked in the steel mills alongside his father until he went to the National Gallery School in 1962 to study painting.

His earliest memories of Sheffield recall the red glow of the night sky, lit by the fires of the steel mill furnaces and chimneys – images that provided inspiration for much of his work.

Says Frances Lindsay, NGV Deputy Director: "In the history of Australian art Peter Booth occupies a central position along with artists such as Sidney Nolan and Fred Williams who have changed our understanding of the world and our place in it. His work bridges both the 20th and 21st centuries and this exhibition will introduce him to a younger generation that shares his concern for the fate of the planet."

Peter Booth says he does not set out to make environmental statements through his works. "A lot of humans forget we are organic entities, the same as every other creature on the planet and we’ve only been here for a short time. I am very pessimistic about the plight of beings. We don’t learn much…I mean we’ve been wreaking havoc as they did in the middle ages. We also have bigger weapons. One thing I am not pessimistic about is the ability of nature to heal itself."

Jason Smith, Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGV and curator of the Booth exhibition, says the works in the exhibition "powerfully emphasise an emotional intensity and vision unlike anyone else’s." He adds: "Peter believes all beings deserve respect and, that each living organism contributes to the order of the universe. To this end, his work is an extraordinary synthesis of observed reality and the limitlessness of his imagination."

Peter Booth
Painting 1977
oil on canvas
182.5 x 304.0 cm
Gift of the artist in memory of Les Hawkins, 1978
Copyright Peter Booth.
Represented by VISCOPY, Sydney.

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