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Conversation with Peter Bocour

July 27, 2010

So you’ve seen Peter’s painting at The Second Hanging. Curious about the guy whose work is so vital? Well, you’re not alone.

Peter grew up with artists. (Remember Bocour Paints, the original acrylic tube paints? They were developed and manufactured by his father who also manufactured artist oil paints.) Well, a lot of now famous artists were always visiting Peter’s father, looking for handouts of paint, which they got. Peter describes them as miserable people, every one of them – miserable, unhappy, cranky and not people you wanted to be around.

Tough dilemma for a happy kid who always knew he would be a famous artist – and who trained at the New York Studio School. He knew he would be a famous artist but the artists were unhappy miseries and the one thing Peter is not is a misery so how was he going to be an artist? Besides, Peter wasn’t very good at figurative drawing and didn’t especially care about getting good at it.

So what’s a lad to do?

Just what you would expect, of course. He went to work for an architectural magazine, starting as an office boy and becoming an editor. Then he became a showroom designer. Then he couldn’t stop himself any longer; he just had to paint. Now Peter is a painter and a superb one at that.

I wanted to chat with Peter because I was curious about how artists find their voices. Sometimes you hear stories of traumas, sometimes stories of careful development of technique. Peter’s voice is simply a reflection of his personality.

Peter is a happy man who laughs a lot and loves his life. (Not that there haven’t been difficulties, bit those are another tale for another day and they’re Peter’s story to tell anyway.) Peter’s work reflects his outlook. He laughs, he pours, he drips, he splashes, he throws, he splatters. He has a wonderful time when he paints and loses himself when painting.

Peter doesn’t usually start out with an image of the finished work in his mind. He is more of an emotional painter than an analytical one – not that he doesn’t think about his work. He usually begins with is an idea of a color scheme (remember the showroom design background). He usually pours the background. Then he gets mischievous – a drip, a splatter, a pour. Even some brushwork. if a work doesn’t go well, he sets it aside until a person makes him think of a specific problem painting. Then he uses their personalities to understand how to finish the piece.

Peter recently was commissioned by Bobbi Brown to create a painting. She wanted something that reflected the lushness of the Caribbean and the tranquility of a spa. Presented Peter with a problem since he’s not a figurative painter and his work isn’t precisely tranquil. In fact, it’s full of sparks and energy. But the painting he created for her inspired a series of eight more using the same and related color palettes.

Peter’s work is extremely vibrant, even when he uses a pastel background. I suspect that Peter’s earlier work used white and pastel backgrounds with later ones using black backgrounds. Bright color bases are his latest pieces.

Well, Peter is as vibrant a personality as his work. Isn’t it wonderful? Do we call him an abstract expressionist or does he earn his own style?

(And did you know that his paintings are named after amusement park rides?)

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