Early in our conversation, Peter Joseph tells us, ‘To me painting is everything, and there’s nothing that we have in society that’s the equivalent. Real painting leaves you absolutely immobile, because you’ve met something; you’ve met yourself.’
Since the sixties, and after leaving behind a career in advertising, Peter has spent his life painting and contemplating painting. Represented by Lisson Gallery, he is their longest standing artist, and has exhibited internationally with numerous other galleries. He lives in the countryside outside Stroud, Gloucestershire, with his wife Denise, an animal rights activist. The studio, which he designed, is a minimal, dark oblong, which, despite objections from conservative neighbours when it was built almost 30 years ago, sits discreetly among a handful of other cottages.
‘I love it out here, because nature is the nearest I know to the experience you have with art. The kind of heady experience you can get sometimes. And the quiet amongst just nature, I find that is immensely important to me. Painting now is such a business of city life, frankly, money making. Who you know and who you don’t know. I find it nonsense because I only need myself to go every day as I do, painting.’
The layout of the studio reveals two clear priorities – daylight and the view over the valley. A wall of large windows overlooks the woodland (beech, oak and sycamore) on the opposite slope. Long tables run in front of the windows and two of Peter’s most recent works hang on the two back walls. The rest of the studio is devoted to storing books and finished work. I enquire about one that’s partly visible. ‘That’s going to be killed off!’ he tells me.