MEET Peter Fyfe! Peter's strong, energetic paintings are eye candy. They draw you in with a beautiful balance of colour, form and lines while his assemblages (pictured in above photo) reflect his literal view of the world.
READ ON to learn about Peter's process and discover his work!
Your paintings depict strong lines, vibrant colour and form – what are you trying to convey with your work – themes, emotions, statements?
I have two approaches, as I tend to produce either abstract paintings, or my more conceptual “constructions”. As a person who has coped with episodes of mental anguish most of my life, when I’m actually in a productive mindset I try to dwell in that happy place – the bright colours, and curving lines. For many years I drew everyday, sketching out my interest in chairs at first, before gravitating to simple, decorative drawings, with simple, repeating forms and shapes. In the same way, in painting I explored straight-lined chairs and partial views of chairs before canoes became my obsession. So with those, I’m in an abstract frame of mind, taking something familiar or ordinary and pushing it to the limit of what can be recognized. It’s almost musical, though I would never pretend to be a musician but as musician Laurie Anderson says, ‘the purpose of art is to provide what life does not”. So, many of my works have musical titles. A great deal of my inspiration comes from years listening to the Beatles and such over and over, but also art history and my fellow artists in general.
Love your piece in the 2018 OMAH Carmichael Exhibition, can you describe your thought process behind its creation? Is this the beginning of a new series?
Thank you for that. It’s called “AVP, An Apparatus for Viewing Landscapes”, and its about exploring ideas and getting away from just flat painting. I’ve always done dimensional work, but it has always been less productive for me; each piece actually takes a lot of time considering different ways to approach an idea, and then finding materials and objects through which I can convey that idea. For a long time I’ve explored ideas of sentimentalism, privilege and power imbalances. For instance, who gets to do what in our society. This work tackles materiality, environmentalism and the art world through those lenses. In that vein, my big question would be, “Who gets to shape art the way it needs to be seen, the artist or the art market?” That probably sounds very heady, but I actually want people to see the humour in the piece.
As for a series, yes I have already sketched out 15-20 smaller pieces I would love to get to. They’ll challenge my carpentry skills for sure. To get to those, I first have a painting commission to complete, and then continuing to be productive will be the greater challenge. However, I must say, as an artist being involved in the OMAH’s Carmichael Show has been a great boost, and I look forward to seeing how my art unfolds over the next year or so.
As an ‘Orillia’ based Artist, what are your thoughts on the art community and where do you see it/hope to see it 5-10 years from now?
I’m a reluctant person socially, but I try to find ways of getting out there and being involved. Participating in group shows at OMAH is one way, but I also use social media quite a bit – I admin a few groups on facebook, “Orillia Artists”, “Canadian Artists for Truth and Reconciliation”, and a group for my own followers. I also have tried to blog, but I find it very distracting and too time intensive – if you read one of my long posts, you’d see why [laughs]. But then there is Streets Alive projects, which I’ve done four plus a few banners. Streets Alive, organized by Leslie Fournier is very energizing, very public.
The Arts District seems very alive with studios, retail spaces and galleries, and especially new, younger faces, which is nice to see. That’s fantastic. With support from the city and a continued influx of what looks like that youth movement taking hold, Orillia will grow as a very vibrant place in many ways – the music, theatre, and the visual arts scene. I encourage others to visit downtown and encourage that growth.
Where may people connect with you and your work, online and in-person. Any upcoming events or exhibitions?
I sell some works online at Saatchi Art which is a good place to look at my last five years or so. I have my website, Fyfe Art which is like this whole survey of everything I’ve ever made! And the blog is there as well as my e-mail. I’ve got a book of drawings available at the OMAH gift store – I tell people it’s the world’s only hardback colouring book! I haven’t participated in an exhibition in a very long time, outside of the Orillia Museum of Art & History, and the Zephyr Gallery back in 2015-16. My favorite way to communicate is on facebook, but I’m in the phone book, for those who still use one of those! And of course, I’m always available just to meet for coffee and talk about commissioned works.
Peter Fyfe is originally from Kingston (Ontario), where he grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. His formal arts education began atYork University Ontario (1982-1986) where he earned hisFine Arts degree studying painting and sculpture. After that there was a stint at the Banff School of Fine Arts, 1986-1987, and then things got wrapped up with a Bachelor of Education (Artist in The Community Program) from Queen's University 1993-94.
For fifteen years, Fyfe taught mostly at Gravenhurst High School, 1999 – 2015, and mostly in Social Sciences, as well as Visual Arts, but also significant course work in Communications Technology, Media, and Business Studies.
Today, Fyfe feels like a re-emerging artist, working from home in Orillia, no studio, but where he also happens to live with his wife Jennifer, two lovely children and two cats.
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