Peter Joseph’s quiet compositions are stubborn, even annoying in their refusal to be situated in current stylistic modes. They are also resistant to reference or association, and to legibility as texts. Mute to the point of being incommunicado, they seem to revel in unstylish Modernist self-referentiality despite their open forms. In this first American exhibition for Joseph, who is an art-world loner in his own country, England, all 13 acrylic paintings, done between 1973 and 1983, share a similar format: a horizontally or vertically placed rectangle of color within a border of a related hue.
This homage included a dozen artists who, according to curator Ken Hodorowski, were in one way or another affected by Joseph Yoakum, the black naive artist from Chicago. All the participating artists collect or own works by Yoakum, and their apparent “responses” range from rather obvious stylistic influences to more subtle emulations of his sensibility. Seven of the twelve artists belong to the group that has come to be labeled the Chicago Imagists, a loose aggregation that came into prominence in the late ’60s—around the same time Yoakum’s work began appearing. Yoakum has been described as a