Peter Halley has highjacked the visual language of Mondrian, modernism and Minimalism, but roots his own work very much in the figurative tradition, in the systems, structures and geometries that in differing measures constrain, facilitate and define our existence in the modern, technological world. Painted in 1994, Peter Halley's Dream Game shows a large rectangle at the center of the canvas, with several conduits leading off from it. The space at the center of Dream Game is both a prison and an electric cell. The picture resembles a microchip or a town plan. We can see the various branches leading from the central cell as the arteries through which electricity, water or communication flow. All the more pertinent, then, since Dream Game is one of the first paintings from 1994, the watershed year when Halley began to create the templates for his paintings using a computer. Now, the square that had been the constant central cell, anchoring so many of his earlier paintings and linking them in some strange family tree of cousin-like interdependence and resemblance, was itself distorted, adding a new developmental step to the network of interlocking cells that make up his oeuvre.
Halley's painting style evolved in a complex and gradual way. His early paintings of a barred, prison-like space invoked his own sense of isolation. But these prisons were joined by more open cells, which lacked bars, and which gradually gained the conduits visible in Dream Game, which themselves show the link between the various cells of the organism of humanity in this ultra-modern age. "I wanted to draw attention to this geometricized, rationalized, quantified world," Halley stated, discussing his paintings.
"I saw it as a world characterized by efficiency, by regimentation of movement, and by the rationalization of all social structures and bureaucracies, whether in the corporation, government, or university" (P. Halley, "Geometry and the Social," Recent Essays 1990-1996, New York, 1997, p.20).
Dream Game, then, presents the viewer with themes and variations on various geometric structures that pervade our life. The painting discourses on the nature of our lives in this computerized age. It also celebrates the formal beauty of structures that paradoxically imprison us while being the sources of so much societal and technological freedom.