Peter Kennard: Decoration

By John Berger


Peter Kennard, in these memorable paintings, in these paintings that refuse to be forgotten, goes very close to the griefs begin inflicted – they are still-life, of grief and, at the same time, include the time-scale of the mountain. They are the opposite of news flashes. They are full of history's irony, fury and anger, at the mistakes made in its name. They reveal the tawdriness of the Gang's half-truths. They acknowledge the pain of what is happening.

They might be quoting Simone Weil, who wrote: "there is a natural alliance between truth and affliction, because both of them are mute supplicants, eternally condemned to stand speechless in our presence." And they are exemplary because, in the face of such inevitable speechlessness, they remind us of the need to speak out in protest, the protest of the dead and the living.

John Berger, form the catalogue Peter Kennard: Decoration, July 2004 (