“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso
As Coronavirus statistics and images continue to occupy our television screens, our social media feeds, and almost every waking moment of our lives; it is the artists around us who are bringing their creativity to bear in ways that offer us thought-provoking glimpses of beauty, joy, light, whimsy, color, and form. Their time-honed skills provide us with some much-needed breathing space from the relentless barrage of anxiety-inducing news, and their mastery of craft transports our minds to calming places where we can engage in some self care.
That's exactly why Living Huntington has decided to shine a spotlight on some of the Long Island artists who work tirelessly to to bring evocative compositions, vivid splashes of color, and visual communication of deeper meaning to our galleries, museums, walls, and computer screens.
Long Island native David Peikon (represented by Cavalier Galleries) is a contemporary realist painter who has long been creating work that just happens to be apropos to our our current social-distancing scenario. His landscapes have often been described as "scenes of serene isolation", conveying a solemn reverence for the idyllic beauty of the natural shores and countryside of Long Island and beyond.
"Crazy times, in a crazy world," states Peikon. "It makes us all yearn for a simpler time, when life moved at a more sane pace. Personally, I felt the pull of a quieter life from an early age, preferring to be alone at a drawing board or easel above all else. Deep in concentration, shutting out the noise of the world while in the 'zone', brought a sense of peace to my whirring mind. When I turned to painting as a profession, now 21 years ago, it was the visual memories of my youth that provided inspiration. Barns, fields, gardens, beaches, open land, where you can actually see the horizon, remain among my favorite subjects. I hope that my struggles as a painter provide a momentary respite for my viewers, to savor the simple beauty that is still to be found around us, if we take the time to seek it out.”
Peikon's work can be found in a vast array of private and corporate collections around the world. With over 20 solo shows to his name, numerous publications including American Artist Magazine and The New York Times have featured articles on Peikon's impressive oeuvre.
In addition to his landscape paintings, Peikon is also an accomplished portrait painter, and is honored to include among his clients, William F. Buckley Jr., Dr. George Church, Salvatore Ferragamo, Philanthropist David H. Koch, The Presidents of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Mrs. Mary Phipps, Dr. David Steinberg, President of Long Island University and Nobel Laureates Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn, Thomas Cech, Carol Greider, and James D. Watson.
A Conversation with David Peikon
Thanks for taking the time to share some insight on your work, David. Would you mind sharing a little information with our readers about your background and the types of work for which you're known?
Absolutely. My background is a bit unconventional in that I started my professional life as a Sales Exec in the NYC Printing Industry. But painting was what I always wanted to do, so after 6 years of planning, I “retired” as VP of Sales, in 1996, at age 38, to pursue painting full-time. I’m predominately self-taught, and I’m known most for my landscapes, scenes I refer to as “serene isolation”; but I've also done over 100 portraits, working in a painterly realist style.
So, what is it that drives you to approach the canvas? What motivates you to do the work?
The challenge to make good art is a constant motivator, but also to always try to better my best. Painting is an activity where you can never reach the peak, you can and must always strive to go higher. I know some people have a hard time actually getting to the easel. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a hard time staying away. That’s why this current isolation doesn’t bother me at all. It’s how I have worked for 24 years now.
Is there anything new you're experimenting with - processes, materials, themes? What are you working on these days?
I’m always experimenting, although I stay within one medium, oil paint, because of its truly limitless possibilities. For the past few months, I've been spending a good deal of time working on old paintings that I wasn’t happy with, applying my now much larger skill set to the issues I couldn’t solve before. It has taught me a great deal about what separates good painting from “just ok” painting.
What have your biggest challenges been as an artist?
The biggest challenge for me over most of the 24 years was the battle to keep moving forward while facing the constant struggle to not lose hope. I was always extremely demanding of myself, driven partly by my obsession to paint, but also driven by manic depression. Painting keeps me sane...mostly.
Looking back, is there any specific artwork you were exposed to at some point that had an impact on your life or your work.
Yes. There was truly a turning point for me, all the way back in 1974 when I was a kid. It wasn’t one work, specifically. It was a solo show of Neil Welliver’s large landscape paintings on 57th St, in NYC. Seeing those paintings, I immediately knew I wanted to be a painter.
How has Long Island had an impact on your art?
I’ve lived my entire life on Long Island, so I've sought out it’s natural beauty all my life. As kids, we played in the woods, rode bikes to the beach, went fishing, hiking, exploring. And as an adult, all those places I loved as a boy became the basis of a large part of my overall body of work.
Let's talk a little bit about how you promote your work. Has social media played a significant role in the advancement of your art career?
I'm fortunate to have a personal Social Media Director on staff -- my daughter. She actually does it for a living. So I actively use social media to promote my work and my galleries. The impact isn't necessarily immediate sales, although that’s always welcome. It’s more of a long term building process, and it gives me the ability to reach a far bigger audience than would be possible by other means.
If you could go back to the beginning of your journey as an artist - what's the one piece of advice you'd give your former self?
If I could go back to the beginning and give my young self some advice, it would be, “Take a deep breath, try to stay calm. It’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
Are there any other Long Island artists you've been exposed to who are creating works that speak to you.
Of course, one is Glen Hansen, although we've never met, but I've always liked the work. He's also represented by Cavalier Galleries. Another is Keith Mantel. Keith and I grew up together, and we shared the same dream. So it’s particularly nice to see he has made it too.
Where can we see (and/or buy) more of your work?
My work is currently available exclusively at Cavalier Galleries in NYC, Greenwich, Nantucket, and Palm Beach.
View Paintings By David Peikon Below
See more work by David Peikon: cavaliergalleries.com/artist/David_Peikon/works
Interview and writing by Eric Taubert (Taubert Gallery - The Fine Art Photography of Eric Taubert). Find him on Twitter at @erictaubert.
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