Galaxia II

New York Neo-Geo icon Peter Halley has been making prints alongside his fluorescent, rectilinear paintings for more than 3 decades. Galaxia II – “a technical tour de force” – is his most ambitious yet.

2 min read

neon artworks by Peter Halley stacked against different walls of his studio
colourful and metallic rectilinear print by Peter Halley

In Halley’s work, linear 'conduits' connect arrays of ‘cells’ and ‘prisons' at right angles. At a small scale, the results call to mind circuit boards and microchips. Zooming out? The tectonic grid of a sprawling metropolis.

Almost a year in the making, our debut collaboration echoes the increasingly complex compositions of the artists' paintings – themselves a reflection of the increasingly complex world that surrounds him.

Peter Halley (he/him) was born in 1953 in New York, USA, where he continues to live and work. His paintings appear in the collections of major institutions including Tate, Whitney, Guggenheim and MoMA.

As an artist, I think of myself as a composer and the printmaker as an orchestra conductor.

Peter Halley, artist
An assortment of print samples and colour swatches on a tabletop
Peter Halley inspecting a stack of colourful print samples and templates in his studio

At the outset, a multitude of ideas were on the table. Together, Halley and master printmaker Brad Keech distilled them into an ambitious, multi-process printing plan. Galaxia II is the result of extensive experimentation – including countless digital tests and hand-cut samples sent between Keech’s workshop and Halley's New York studio.

The composition combines elements from two original canvases. Interconnected solids nod to the rigid structures which underpin society – drawing on a language refined by Halley since the 1980s. In tandem, a narrow gold border encircling the print references the gilded surround of a medieval altar.

test for the layers of a low relief print made from overlapping white paper layers
Pile of colourful test prints and colour samples on a sunlit table
UV inks and a flatbed printer

UV inks and a flatbed printer offer vibrant pigmentation and unmatched precision. Four separate layers are printed on thick grey paper – carefully selected for its unique response to colour, and the depth created when stacked and adhered.

Next, metallics! For decades Halley has appropriated the lurid colours and textures used by advertisers to demand attention. In paintings, this often entails textured industrial paints like Roll-a-Tex and Day-Glo. For Galaxia II, it manifests as a series of colourful foils applied to the surface of each print.

bespoke copper plate used for adding metallic foil layers to a layered print edition
silver-coloured metal plate use to cut out an individual layer for a print edition by Peter Halley
Peter Halley

Foils are applied using copper plates, extreme heat and many tonnes of pressure. A lengthy process of trial and error paves the way to achieving the desired effect. Once foiled, the four composite layers are die-cut using bespoke metal plates. Precise die-cutting requires a wealth of expertise. A lifelong artisan was enlisted to help.

Assembling the layers presents one final challenge. They are painstakingly aligned using a bespoke jig to, at last, reveal the artwork envisaged by the artist many months prior. A pass through an etching press ensures that they stay in place forever.

Peter Halley smiling at the camera while signing prints in his New York studio

Peter Halley signing prints in his New York City studio

What appears so simple is actually very complex and completely intentional. Within my 30 year career as a printmaker and graphic designer, this project has become one of my absolute favourites – it feels momentous.

Brad Keech, printmaker

Galaxia II

Galaxia II, an edition of 40, will be available on 13th June 2022.

Studio shoot by Matt Grubb for Avant Arte.
Behind the scenes images and videos courtesy of Brad Keech and Lamina.

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