Critics’ Picks

Peter Wilde,  On the Carpet, 2014, oil on canvas, 78 x 59”.

Peter Wilde, On the Carpet, 2014, oil on canvas, 78 x 59”.


Peter Wilde

Lehr Zeitgenössische Kunst
Grossbeerenstrasse 16
June 21–July 26, 2014

For “Following G,” painter Peter Wilde constructs a portrait of a young Berliner based on photographs from her Facebook profile. In the tradition of such pioneers of Photorealism as Robert Bechtle and Charles Bell, Wilde generates conceptual tension by meticulously, even lovingly, reproducing snapshots of fleeting moments and easily overlooked subject matter as large-scale oil paintings. Although G (and her surrounding creative clutter) is striking, the subjects of Wilde’s finely rendered scenes are often ambiguous actions in which no faces are directly defined. Rather than replicate persona-defining profile pics, Wilde paints apparently innocuous images that might be buried in a series of episodic shots. These offhand images of young people conversing or looking at a laptop on an unmade bed feel genuinely intimate. Objects, light, atmosphere, and personal aesthetics appear like clues in a suspenseful story—one driven by the viewer’s interest in why Wilde directs his attention and skill to carefully honoring these insouciant scenes.

On the Carpet, 2014, presents a ratty Persian rug seen from above. On it rests a haphazard arrangement: figures only visible from the waist down, weathered purses, candles, beer bottles, an ashtray, a can of hair spray, a fly swatter, and a range of cigarette paraphernalia. While the atmosphere here is clearly convivial, Wilde’s central subject, G, remains elusive. Wilde recently disclosed that G is a transgender expat, yet this identity is never fully revealed in Wilde’s work. Instead, the mystery that he imparts to his images respects and enhances her privacy.