Peter Shear: Recording

22 May - 19 June 2021

Text excerpt from Peter Shear’s Determination and Openness by John Yau


Working during a time rife with expensive, attention-getting artistic gestures, Shear’s decision to follow a humbler path marked by intimately scaled works without a signature style or brand is radical.  He may not display any signs of an overt self, but there is nothing indecisive about these paintings. Since I first saw his work almost five years ago, Shear has grown in confidence, as evidenced by the increase in the scale of his works. True to his early commitment, he has continued to explore paint’s materiality, moving easily from viscous brushstrokes to diaphanous shapes. Early on, I thought of Shear as a self-taught painter who is single-mindedly working his way through the history of abstract painting, from the gestural to the geometric, and from thick, luscious strokes to dry markers and thinned-down surfaces. What is remarkable about this undertaking is that I never feel that Shear is derivative: each painting has something going for it.  They are the work of an artist who can make them where he lives, which is to say he does not seem to need a huge studio, assistants, or a fabricator standing by. He has rejected grandiosity and that false equivalence between masculinity and post-easel painting. I am not even sure he needs an easel. Shear’s fiercely modest paintings are mysterious and refreshing. They are beautiful manifestations of the meeting of eye, hand, memory, and imagination. 

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