Visual Art

Dancer Alexander Peters Pivots to Paint in Miami Beach Exhibition

Written By Olga Garcia-Mayoral
March 30, 2023 at 12:40 PM

Miami City Ballet Principal Dancer Alexander Peters working on one of his paintings, part of the exhibition “In Pieces,” at Visu Contemporary in Miami Beach. (Photo courtesy of Visu Contemporary)

For Alexander Peters, dance is his profession and his passion, but he has another art form that he says provides him with an additional sense of artistic nourishment.

Peters, originally from State College, Pa., is a principal dancer with the Miami City Ballet. Now, with an exhibition of his paintings at Visu Contemporary in Miami Beach, he speaks about how dance and his painting practice intermingle.

Alexander Peters: “Have One on Me” acrylic and oil on canvas, 60×48, “Chasing the Sun,” acrylic and oil on canvas, 36×36. (Photo courtesy of Visu Contemporary)

“Initially, I did not understand how passionate I’d become (about painting),” says Peters. “Exploring the possibilities. over time I began to develop my craft and process.”  This newfound period provided him with a new sense of artistic nourishment.

The gallery will be showing his work through Saturday, April. 8.

“I don’t tend to relate my work as a dancer to my paintings. There’s very little figurative use in my work. I’m more interested in dealing with landscape, mood, and feeling.”

He does say that dance has an influence on his work.

“Within my profession as a dancer, we strive for an ideal perfection, molding and manipulating our bodies into these predetermined and codified shapes. In my painting, I strive to break away from that perfectionism and find a balance between exactness and disorganization.”

The exhibition, entitled “In Pieces” explores the blurred boundaries between abstraction and the nuances of color, shape, and form, in a collection of large-scale and smaller works.

Alexander Peters: Various smaller works acrylic and oil pastels, 11×14 and “Splendor” acrylic and oil pastels, 72×60 (Photo courtesy of Visu Contemporary)

Through his work, Peters inspires the viewer to question their perceptions of the world and intrigues us with curiosity. The unique use of invites and striking linear lines of rich layering of paint invite the viewer to gaze through the painting. His artworks compose abstract landscapes that are subconsciously familiar to the eye. Alexander’s bold brushstrokes and textures manipulate the canvas to evoke emotion. Peters wants to encourage the viewer to engage with his work on a deeper level.

With the obsessive need to paint daily, Peters’ skillset transcends his works. The exhibition is a dynamic representation of emotion, energy, and technique. He says his work is developed over several months, exploring different ways to manipulate the materials, composition, color, and texture. The artist says he draws influence from Modern American painters Cy Twombly (1923-2011) and Joan Mitchell (1925-1992).

“I was first exposed to Cy’s work when I lived in Philadelphia and saw his collection, ‘Fifty Days at Iliam’ (at the Philadelphia Museum of Art). It blew me away, and I still visit it often,” says Peters. “Joan’s work came to me later, but her use of color and composition is unmatched. The freedom that their work exudes inspires me a lot in my creative process. They’re both abstract artists, but they’re also masterful storytellers.”

Peters challenges the viewer to explore his paintings through dynamic grids and immersive painterly visualization. By using grids, the artist creates a sense of structure and order, which is then disrupted by bold brushstrokes and textures. This disruption creates a sense of movement and energy within the painting, which stimulates the senses and encourages viewers to engage with the work on a deeper level.

Peters’ abstract landscapes are created through intuitive actions while painting. He allows the materials to guide him, he says, which results in a pure reflection of personal experiences, feelings, and fragments. This means that while the paintings are not representational, they still convey a sense of emotion and meaning. By using imperfections and compositional elements, Peters creates pieces that are uniquely beautiful and intriguing.

Alexander Peters at Visu Contemporary with some of the works featured in the exhibition in “In Pieces.” (Photo courtesy of Visu Contemporary)

Through his process, the artist creates a sense of tension between order and chaos, structure and fluidity, which allows viewers to explore the painting’s complexities and dynamics. Ultimately, his work encourages viewers to connect with their own experiences and emotions and to explore the ways in which these are reflected in the art they encounter.

 “The work happens very intuitively. The result is not always the intended destination,” says Peters. “Given my interest in exploring perfection and its subsequent erosion and distortion, you could draw a connection that the work might comment on urbanization, urban decay, or global warming. However, I’m more inclined to suggest that the work is simply about finding beauty in the imperfection of the world around us.”

Painting is an incredibly meditative experience for Peters. He says that in order to seek different perspectives for inspiration, he listens to the music of harpist Joanna Newsom and indie rock band Big Thief. Listening to music assists Peters with the best method to communicate his coded personal metaphors and analogies, he reveals.

Painting is a meditative experience for Alexander Peters, the principal dancer says of his artwork. (Photo courtesy of Visu Contemporary)

The intricate layering of paint creates depth in the grid composition of linear lines, along with a bold color plate. As Peters paints, he also scrapes the material to indicate the journey of chaos in order, allowing the past surface of the paint to suggest where the new layers may bring in light.

Peters isn’t concerned with making statements in his work. He would much prefer it to be a respite from chaos.

“I understand that art can have a wide range of interpretations and can provoke various reactions from different people. And while it can be important to acknowledge the political context of an artist, relating to where, when, or how they live, it’s also possible for an artwork to be intentionally apolitical or serve as a respite from a political view. We are inundated with media constantly in our modern daily lives and my work is meant to provide more of an escape than to comment on any particular issue.”

Peters’ fearlessness in experimentation is captivating and thought-provoking.

WHAT: Alexander Peters: “In Pieces”

WHERE:  Visu Contemporary, 2160 Park Ave., Miami Beach

WHEN: Through Saturday, April 8.

HOURS: The gallery is open to the public; schedule visit in advance

COST: Free

INFORMATION: 305-496-5180; visugallery.com  

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