A Project for Open City

Peter Pinchbeck, the father of Open City editor Daniel Pinchbeck, died last September at the age of sixty-eight. An utterly committed artist, Pinchbeck’s work is a testament to a solitary, passionate, life-long dedication to the utopian ideals of abstract art. The paintings and drawings he left behind are probing and profound, abject and obstinate, luminous and eerie, eccentric yet true to their own inner logic.

Pinchbeck was eloquent about his own work, believing that abstraction remained a viable way to explore the nature of consciousness, the history of art, and the latest ideas in physics and philosophy. The following note, found on his paint table at the time of his death, describes the concerns of his later work:

"Painterly volume is what interests me. What shapes have to have is presence, like a person, to have the reality of a figure in space, but still be abstract. I want to evoke this world, to some extent, in the rendering of form, but not in terms of the imagery, which is surreal and abstract. In style it mainly follows the tradition of the romantic abstractionists (Ryder, Redon, Pollock, deKooning, Kline, Cézanne). There are predecessors for this kind of extreme volumetrism. There is a group of drawings by Picasso in the thirties of these strange organic shapes, very three-dimensionally rendered. But I hope there are other echoes. I am influenced all the time by that Rembrandt self-portrait in the Frick where the figure sits against a dark background and the figure, face, and the amazing hands have an extraordinary volume and presence (the greater the volume, the stronger the form–the greater the presence). There are also those late blue Cézannes of the gardener. Painting goes its own way: It must always evade our understanding."