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Peter John FERGUSON (b.1956)

Peter Ferguson is recognised as one of Australia’s leading mid-career artists both for his consistent track record of producing vibrant, original and highly colourful work, and as a founding member of the famed Roar Studio in Melbourne.

Ferguson was a boyhood friend of another founder of Roar, David Larwill The two were also students together at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne between 1976 and1979.

Travels to Europe in the early 1980s gave the opportunity for the young Ferguson to visit art museums such as the Stedelijk in Amsterdam. This was a venue of particular significance for him. In 1981, he also viewed the collection of Amsterdam’s CoBrA Museum of Modern Art. CoBrA works were felt to have a special style that had evolved from the enthusiasm of like-minded artists working together. So, too, with Ferguson’s work at Roar the following year which highlighted bright colours spontaneously applied in dynamic, abstract shapes.

The stated aim of Roar Studios was “to provide gallery and studio space for all artists but in particular young artists”*. Roar was also a play on words which the group of young founders felt aptly described their art. ‘Raw art’ is also a term that translates as “L’art Brut”. French artist Jean Dubuffet - whose work Ferguson admired during his travels to Europe - had coined the phrase in 1945. The following year, as one of the founders at Roar in 1982, Peter Ferguson seized both the day and the tenor of the times.

In the early 1980s, Ferguson also went on plein air field trips and was joined by other original Roar artists Mark Schaller who had also studied at the VCA, and Sarah Faulkner. These visits helped him develop his style, as did the immersion in works of the Figurative Expressionist and Australian Abstract movements.

The young Roar artists looked at Australian painters who held to an Angry Penguins-style ideology: Sidney Nolan, Danila Vassilieff, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker; they also referenced names such as the Australian artists John Olsen and Iain Fairweather together with Jean Dubuffet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso amongst other international names.

Another important influence for Ferguson, together with his brother Andrew Ferguson, (also an original Roar Studios artist) was the family history of working in stained glass. John Ferguson worked in glass and was a painter; the Ferguson brother’s grandfather had been a glass artist.

Today, Peter Ferguson’s style is instantly recognisable for its naïve combination of childlike human figures, birds, trees and buildings, executed in vivid colours.  He is represented in the National Gallery of Australia Canberra; Art Bank; Sir William Dobell Foundation Sydney; Shepparton Art Gallery; Tamar Collection Launceston; World Congress Centre Melbourne; Victorian Tapestry Workshop Melbourne; Northern Territory University Art Collection Darwin; and the Victoria and Albert Museum London.

* Roar Studios Constitution

 by Wordmakers 2018.


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