Peter LeCompte
Artist Biographical Information

Catalog Essay

Like Andy Warhol, Peter Le Compte uses photo-silkscreen printing as a technique for making paintings. But that is where the comparison between the two artists ends, for in Warholšs icons of ironic depersonalization, nobody is having any fun, perhaps most especially the viewer. In Le Comptešs work, both artist and viewer get to have a good deal of fun, that being the fun that comes from playing with diverse and disparate stylistic fragments in a devil-may-care manner. These are mined from odd and almost forgotten sources: going from painting to painting, one might see echoes of the graphic design and commercial illustration styles of the late 1930s or the early 1950s, but almost always, they hark back to the more anxiety-free days of our collective pre-Vietnam war childhood. Like a DJ who orchestrates pre-arranged musical samples into a continuous mix while also highlighting their obscure connotations, Le Compte juggles memory and color into what appear to be the solidified icons of a recovered happiness, here cast as being both zany and wistful.

The photo-silkscreen technique is the perfect vehicle for this project, for several reasons. In its elimination of half-tones and re-presentation of images as clusters of dots, it successfully suggests the comic, cartoon-character provenance of the aforementioned happiness. It also allows for the conveyance of a sharp sense of instant recall--as if the workšs visible image just popped into consciousness for no good reason. This offers a sharp contrast to more traditionally painted images, which, in their slow build-up of descriptive detail seem to suggest a struggle between accurate memory and delusional fantasy. What Le Comptešs work teaches us is that there should be no struggle between the two, because they are in fact one and the same thing.

Mark Van Proyen
Assisten Professor of Painting, Design, and Digital Media
at the San Francisco Art Institute
Bolinas, June 9, 2001.