Peter BOOTH, Painting 1978. Enlarge 1 /1


Sheffield, England born 1940

  • Australia from 1958

Painting 1978. (1978) Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Dimensions: 198.2 h x 274.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1979
Accession No: NGA 79.2153

Peter Booth became known for his black, minimal ‘doorway’ paintings of 1970–74. Yet by 1977 he had given up this style and begun to record the world of his dreams and nightmares in a series of apocalyptic, visionary landscapes. Booth’s paintings suggest that we are on the edge of another dark age. His paintings are brutal representations of his bleak dreams and fantasies. In an age of nuclear threat Booth’s work has a monumentality which is evocative of the final conflagration mentioned in The Book of Revelations.

Painting 1978, challenges and disturbs the viewer by the artist’s choice of colour and method of painting. The dramatic black and red, yellow and white composition suggests both an industrial and a natural wasteland. The heavy impasto paint texture describes, with vigour and intensity, flames, explosions, and unidentified nightmarish images. Contradictory forces pull us into the central inferno below the glacial mountain peaks, and showers of rock explode towards us.

Is it the artist himself who stands with his back to us, mesmerised by the scene, while grotesque metamorphosing figures stare out at us?

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra