Peter Lik: Landscape Dreams

"Allure" by Peter Lik

Peter Lik began capturing the wonders of nature as a young boy in his native Australia and never stopped. One of Lik’s most notable projects, “Spirit of America,” is a 50-state landscape exploration of perilous deserts, ethereal mountain peaks, lush fields, and glimmering cityscapes. Lik’s love for America and its landscapes led him to become a naturalized citizen in 2013.

And now this esteemed and, yes, controversial, artist has opened the Lik Fine Art Hamptons Gallery — one of many galleries he has opened in the past few years including in Vail, Las Vegas, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Chicago — on Newtown Lane, East Hampton, featuring 45 of his masterworks, including New York City-inspired images. Most of the very limited-edition photographs are printed using silver halide — a century-old darkroom technology using light-sensitive paper and silver-based chemistry, which makes the prints seem to glow as the lights are turned down.

“For years, the Hamptons have beckoned me — I am thrilled to finally set up shop at this seaside dreamscape and warmly welcome in a community that has always embraced me and my work,” Lik said.

And he really does love it out here. “The community is constantly buzzing with people enjoying life; shopping, dining, culture and nightlife — all against the backdrop of a landscape that is just as beautiful in winter as it is in summer,” he said, adding, “It feels right. The calm atmospheric energy and rich sophistication are the perfect complements to my collection.”

But it all started when he was a kid in Australia. “There is no better playground for a landscape photographer — with rivers, forests, deserts, beaches, mountains, and of course the Great Barrier Reef,” he recalled. “It’s where I first met Mother Nature, camping and exploring with friends and family. She has been the one true influence on my career, and the great artist of my life. My admiration for her beauty is what keeps me out there every day doing what I love.”

Lik has been awarded the title of Master Photographer from the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, Professional Photographers of America, and Federation of European Photographers and Master Photographers International. He is also a fellow at the British Institute of Professional Photographers, the American Society of Photographers, and the Royal Photographic Society.

Lik’s works “Ghost” and “Inner Peace” have been included in an exhibition of Nature’s Best Photography at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in D.C. In 2015, he was honored at PPA’s Imaging USA with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Phantom,” one of Lik’s photographs which supposedly sold for $6.5 million to an anonymous buyer, can be seen, in a smaller form, at the East Hampton gallery, but is closely guarded.

But what was the first work that made him realize that he had an original voice? “Capturing ‘Pele’s Whisper’ was an experience I will never forget,” he said.

“As I found out, Hawaiian volcanoes are not to be taken lightly. Hiking out over the smoldering lava, I began to sense my own mortality. I just tucked the fear in and kept moving.”

Much later, with the shoot behind him, “two local legends — Bruce and Tom — informed me of the story of Pele, the goddess of fire in Hawaiian folklore. They made this shoot happen. A volatile and, at times, vindictive goddess, Pele took pleasure in her power to both destroy the land and also create it — very fitting. You can make out her profile in the upper left-hand corner. It still takes me back to that melting patch of rock every time I look at it. In a million years, I could never duplicate its magic.”

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