Portraiture was the cornerstone of New Zealand photographer Peter Peryer‘s career. His early work consisted of exquisitely moody photographs (often shot with a cheap toy camera) featuring friends and acquaintances including art historian Michael Dunn, painter Dean Buchanan and writer Donna Yuzwalk (above). Like his American counterparts Harry Callahan and Emmett Gowin, Peryer also created a significant body of work featuring his wife as subject.
By the early 1980s however, Peryer appeared to have lost interest in the genre, turning his attention to highly formalised examinations of objects. Despite this, in his desire to comprehend the very essence of things, elements of portraiture remained apparent within the artist’s oeuvre. In ‘Fork and Spoon’ (above), a set of salad servers are presented in close-up, American Gothic-style. The artist has also created numerous portraits of animals, like ‘Sea Elephant’ (below), with his comical expression off-set by exquisite rolling folds of neck.
But Peryer rarely photographs human subjects these days, which is why his forthcoming exhibition at McNamara Gallery, Whanganui, is so exciting. The show will focus on portraits alone, some of which have never been seen before. The interplay between his early ‘psycho-dramas’ and more recent, pared back studies will be fascinating.
Petert Peryer’s exhibition opens at McNamara Gallery, 190 Wicksteed Street, Whanganui, on Friday October 1.