Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Images courtesy Editions Ltd
In a year that is going to see Liverpool becoming the home of internationally renowned artists, and international tourist culture bombing our fair city in the wonderful festival we call the Biennial, it is refreshing to see an artist who can truly be called local. Peter Cameron’s latest exhibition at Editions recalls local places and celebrates them from a very personal perspective.
Working from his small studio in Elevator Studios, part of the former Novas building, Peter Cameron brings his colourful take on representation to light. With a style that has the energy of the abstract, the precision of portraiture, and the comedy of cartoon, it’s difficult to put a label on any of the work in this exhibition. But perhaps that doesn’t matter, because regardless of labels, the work on display at Editions does everything it sets out to do.
What is quite astonishing about this work is a significant factor in its process. Peter Cameron, a few years ago, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but rather than let that have an effect on his work, he has used it to his advantage. Using the characteristic linear shaking of Parkinson’s, Cameron creates energetic scenes with a sense of movement that is achieved more naturally than at any point in his past. He has even mastered painting and drawing with his left hand, which is less affected by the illness.
But this isn’t a story of an artist overcoming adversity, this is a story of a local artist continuing to chase his passion and manufacturing new and exciting methods to create wonderfully relatable images. The nature of the work, in its energy, puts a unique spin on portraiture, focussing on movement in order to display temporary versions of personalities.
While the artist has a successful career outside of Liverpool his subjects are, more often than not, his friends, his acquaintances, or people that share a love of the places he paints. Their personalities pop out of the paintings, with one work providing such an attitude in the face of its two singers that you can almost hear the rasp in their voices. In another, Mathew Street’s iconic Eric’s is home to a room full of guests finding new friends, new voices, new stories, in amongst emotions ranging from glee to sorrow. For an artist working in this style and with this natural energy to capture that range of detail, in what could easily be described as abstract, is fascinating to look at.
And what’s more, the location of the work places it on a level of observation and record that sets it apart from the seas of concept and theory production that most artists tend to work with today. The exhibition runs until the 10th of May 2016, and would be a brilliant education to anyone looking to form new views on portraiture.