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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Peter Churcher

Barcelona Crowd, 2010, Peter Churcher
The Last Portrait (his
mother, Betty Churcher), 2015,
Peter Churcher. The portrait was
an Archibald finalist.
It's not too unusual for a son to follow in his father's footsteps in becoming an artist. In fact, truth be told, until the past hundred years or so, it was probably more likely than not. Even after the advent of prestigious national art academies many a young man got his start in art under his father's tutelage. That's not to say, however, that many other young artists didn't defy their father in choosing an art career rather than his father's profession. In the case of the Australian painter, born in 1964, both of Peter Churcher's parents were artists. His mother was Betty Churcher (right), who was director of the National Gallery of Australia from 1990-97, while Peter's father, Roy, was an Abstract Expressionist. The two died within three months of one another in 2015. Their son, Paul is not an artist, but has found himself dealing with the hundreds of paintings his parents left behind, inasmuch as his brother, Peter, lives with his wife and two children half a world away in Barcelona, Spain.
Though never in the Australian military, Churcher spent three
 months with the Australian Navy in the Middle east fighting
the War On Terror with his paintbrush, fulfilling a commission
from the Australia War Memorial.
Peter Churcher was born in Brisbane, Queensland. As a young man, he originally set out to study music. In fact, he holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Melbourne University (1986), as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Prahran School of Art and Design, where he graduated in 1991. In 2002, though a staunch anti-war advocate, Churcher spent three months in the Persian Gulf area embedded in various Australian naval and air units covering combat operations through his art. He eventually completed twenty-seven paintings and many drawings of what he saw, mostly onboard the HMAS Kanimbla. At the time his work was criticized in that his work very often depicted the Australian military idling or asleep. Apparently there was a lot of that going on. For better or worse, modern-day warfare is like that, heavily laden with "hurry up and wait."
Two of the painted portraits from the War Memorial commission.
Churcher has entered the Archibald Portrait Competition ten times and has been hung six times (only finalists have their work displayed). In 2006 Churcher saw his painting, Bruce, Linde and Me on the Road to Guadelupe (below) chosen as a finalist. He has also made the finals in 2014 and 2015 (the portrait of his mother).

Bruce, Linde and me on the road to Guadelupe,
 Peter Churcher, finalist Archibald Portrait Prize.
Studio Still-life, 2012, Peter Churcher.
Besides being an accomp-lished portrait artist, Churcher enjoys painting crowd scenes (top) and the one above, as well as the occasional still-life (left) and landscapes. Howev-er, he is most prolific at paint-ing figures, the majority of them nude, the majority of those full-frontal, and the maj-ority of those, male. And it is for these that he's best known. His Siesta (below), from 2006, is typical of Churcher's' mas-sed male compositions while his Plaza de los Angeles (below), from 2012, presents a semi-nude grouping suitable for this venue.

Plaza de los Angeles, 2012, Peter Churcher
The Outcast, 1996, Peter Church


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