Like the paintings by Fitz Henry Lane and his contemporaries later called Luminists, Peter Lyons’s paintings depict scenes whose otherworldly light evokes or precipitates a moment in which the mind comes into contact with truths beyond the senses and outside time. Beauty is immanent; serenity is palpable; spiritual fulfillment — with all its requisite complexity and awareness of suffering — is imminent.
A few of Lyons’s paintings exemplify the axes of his art and the emotional power of his paintings.
In The Valley, a long irrigation canal arrives from a distant horizon, together with angled twilight and a converging series of poles. The proximate debouching of a second canal, intensely illuminated, the surge and debris suggesting violent power, the glowing rails — this culminating power of the engineered and natural landscape is all aimed precisely at the spot where the viewer stands, and is happening now.
In Yellow Boxcar, childlike joy in color and form elevate and celebrate the elementary sensations of being in the world. In Breakthrough, emblems of the sensory world disappear into that realm beyond real where artists create meaning and beauty.
In American Dream, the vortical harmonies and tensions of the composition enact the spiritual harmonies and tensions among the three strata of human experience: the heavens above, the natural order below, and civilization interposing.
— Matthew Swift