Peter Halley
Heterotopia II

Ground Floor

Press Release

Peter Halley

Heterotopia II

November 6 – December 20, 2019

Ground Floor

In Des Espaces Autres (1984), Michel Foucault defines heterotopia in opposition to utopia. While utopias are unrealized representations of a perfected society, heterotopias exist within all societies as realms differentiated from everyday life. Examples include ceremonial, sacred, and institutional spaces such as chapels, cemeteries, libraries, and prisons. They are spaces designated for special activities – creating their own sense of time and operating according to their own standards.

Through a range of media – painting, architectural installation, digital prints, and critical writing – Peter Halley’s work has illuminated the structures of social space and communication that shape our experience of contemporary life. For his second solo exhibition at Greene Naftali, Halley presents Heterotopia II, the latest in a series of large-scale installations exploring the relationship between painting and architectural space. Halley has created a multi-colored, labyrinthine structure in the ground floor gallery housing eight new shaped-canvas paintings, titled after imaginary planets from Isaac Asimov’s science-fictional universe.

The installation is enclosed by tall neon yellow walls coated in Roll-a-Tex, with only a narrow slot in the front wall offering the viewer a preemptive glimpse inside. The interior space is organized around a glowing yellow core – an inaccessible inner sanctum whose light is solely visible through three distinctive apertures. Around the core are arrayed eight interconnected rooms rendered in vivid colors, each defined by architectural elements, including staircases, keyhole windows, beams, and columns. The arrangement of these elements playfully nods to motifs in the work of architects Peter Eisenmann, Hans Hollein, Luis Barragán and Louis Kahn, as well as to Halley’s own oeuvre. Halley’s installation, with its candy colored surfaces, is a postmodern reverie on neoplasticism and modernist geometry, founded on a tension between rationalist geometry and lyrical color.

Visitors circulating through the maze-like installation encounter Halley’s shaped-canvas paintings one-by-one, as the interactions between two-dimensional image and three-dimensional architecture unfolds. Composed of multiple interlocking prisons and cells, the paintings create ambiguous figure-ground relationships, while echoing the geometric plan of their three-dimensional setting.

Since the 1990s, Halley has extended his painting practice into the realm of site-responsive architectural interventions, incorporating wall-sized digital prints, sound, and sculptural elements.The shaped-canvas paintings on view here evolved from the series of paintings exhibited at Lever House in 2018. Heterotopia II further explores concepts seen in both Halley’s projects at Lever House and in his installation Heterotopia I in Venice last summer.

Peter Halley lives and works in New York. He has had solo museum exhibitions at institutions including Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (1991); the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1992); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1992); the Dallas Museum of Art (1995); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997); the Museum Folkwang, Essen (1998); Musée D’Art Moderne, Saint Étienne Métropole, France (2014); and the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2016). He has recently mounted large-scale presentations at Lever House, New York (2018) and l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2019).


A Carbon Neutral Initiative

This fall, Peter Halley is launching #artworldoffset, a carbon neutral initiative to urge other artists and galleries to join him in making the art industry carbon neutral. Peter Halley Studio now offsets its carbon consumption, including heating, electricity, materials, as well as airplane and automobile travel though the Gold Standard Foundation. Artists Leo Villareal and Keltie Ferris have already joined the effort and made their studios carbon neutral. To learn more about this initiative and how to join, visit www.peterhalley.com/offset.


Greene Naftali
508 West 26th Street
Ground Floor & 8th Floor
New York, NY 10001

(212) 463-7770