Peter Stichbury

Born Auckland, 1969, lives and works in Auckland

The core dialectic – the simultaneous ‘truth’ between apparently disparate states, conditions or ideals that runs through Peter Stichbury’s remarkable, visually consistent yet intellectually evolving practice, bridges the gulf between the conscious and unconscious. Auckland born and based painter Stichbury’s works are at once exactingly realised portraits within post-renaissance, red-ground conventions, and antithetical to the essential value structure of traditional portraiture in its purported function of the accurate or mimetic representation of form. Rather, Stichbury’s other-worldly oil on linen paintings (head to shoulder conventions, frontal or slightly three quarter depictions, with the use of names in titles,) suspend disbelief and privilege wonder and mystery in the visual quest of a universal unknown.

Stichbury’s so-called portrait subjects, ageless with immaculately groomed hair, perfect skin, wide staring symmetrical eyes with a blank, distracted or slightly quizzical expression, depict the citizens of an alternate reality that hovers just out of reach of the tangible, shrouded in well-organised layers of disinformation, conspiracy theory and myth, that no amount of academic or investigative research seems quite able to penetrate.

Away from the pull of consensus reality, Stichbury states that as a child he had an experience that he simply could not, nor cannot still, explain. Yet as an adult has grown to the empirical understanding that the (seemingly) metaphysical experience could have arisen from, or be rationalised by, the fact that he was a child. All his subjects bear a trace of the metaphysical, and while drawn from extensive ‘historical’ research and characterised by an openness to the understandable variations upon the scientifically unaccountable, they are all revealed as having a narrative opacity that ultimately defies categorisation. Stichbury has exhaustively sourced, researched and illuminated evidential case studies of alien abduction, bi-location, near-death and out of body experiences, and given visual life to an amassed oeuvre of literally extra-ordinary work. Philosophically his practice has slowly accumulated an absorbing breadth and multi-layered complexity carefully founded upon the elusive ground of subjectively qualitative data.



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