Lot 127: Roland Petersen
The Other Side of the Rainbow
Exhibited: Adele Bednarz Galleries, Los Angeles, 1973; Polles Gallery, San Francisco, 1972; Frederic Stern Gallery, Los Angeles, 2008.
Literature: Roland Petersen: A Retrospective Exhibition. Exhibition catalogue. San Francisco: Harcourts Contemporary, 1989. np (see plates for similar examples from this series).
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California painter and printmaker Roland Petersen (b. 1926) had already achieved prominence with his Picnic Series, figurative paintings of afternoon picnics in California’s Central Valley, but in the early 1970s, an allergic reaction forced him to switch from oil paint to acrylic. According to Petersen, “Each painting has a different kind of mathematical solution; I’m not always able to solve it, but I try to work out a pattern of shapes.” Similarly, when he was faced with the problem of switching mediums, Petersen was intrigued by the possibilities of acrylic paint. Beginning with the Spectrum Band Series (as Roland now refers to the series), Petersen harnessed the properties of acrylic paint to create more vibrant canvases without losing the quality of solitude inherent in his geometric picnic scenes. Petersen painted The Other Side of the Rainbow in 1972 when he was teaching at the University of California, Davis. It is the perspective most commonly used in the Picnic Series, the viewer gazing across farmland toward the foothills. To achieve the hard edges that complement his bold colors, Petersen utilized a masking out technique he learned while studying with the legendary printmaker Stanley Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris. Petersen cutout the desired shapes of contact paper and applied them directly to the canvas, resulting in “razor sharp edges.” This juxtaposition of geometric forms refers to the tension between the man and woman staring in different directions, each experiencing the rainbow’s illuminating effects in isolation, feasibly on the verge of a solution. His work can be viewed in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Petersen continues to paint, and in 2010, a career-spanning retrospective was exhibited at the Monterey Museum of Art.
Amerson, Price. Interview with Roland Petersen. Roland Petersen: A Retrospective Exhibition. San Francisco: Harcourts Contemporary, 1989. Print. Petersen, Roland. Telephone interview. 11 Aug. 2012.