Peter Halley’s Heterotopia II explored the relationship between painting, architecture, and image
LEILAH STONE • December 24, 2019, The Architect’s Newspaper
Peter Halley’s Heterotopia II, a candy-colored shrine to geometric abstraction closed on December 20 at Greene Naftali gallery in Chelsea (Manhattan). The exhibition, which embodied the relationship between painting and architectural space, brought visitors into a disorienting, hyperreal world collaged out of references to science fiction, modernist architecture, and mass media—all painted in fluorescent hues. The installation was both a fortress and a stage set and brought to mind the importance of creating alternative worlds and ways of seeing while also probing the ties between architecture, art, and image.
Creating paintings that depicted both social isolation and connectivity, the artist’s work has often looked to geometry as a metaphor for society. A heterotopia can be defined as institutions that are in opposition to the utopia, spaces that are different and that operate outside of societal norms (prisons, temples, cemeteries, and brothels are some of the examples Michel Foucault outlined in his essay “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias”). At the same time, heterotopias often reveal as much as they conceal, acting as a mirror that reflects back the values of the dominant culture. Halley’s Heterotopia II is a labyrinthian universe that highlighted visitors’ relationship to and perception of color in the built environment whether applied to a canvas, a wall, or pixels of a photo uploaded to social media. In today’s terms, the installation is “Instagrammable,” to say the least.