The Psychedelic Binoculars of Peter Ruhf: A particular parallax
Exhibition from May 5- May 31st @ Ursa Major Gallery Shelburne Falls MA
Opening reception 7-9 pm May 5
Gallery hours Saturdays and Sundays 12-5
for appointments, call 413-824-0502
Peter Ruhf has got more than a vision- he has a calling. He can’t stop painting, and that has to be part of the definition of a real painter. For all his adult life, he’s represented what he sees on canvas and paper and in other media, with detours to become a Guinness Book of Records world-champion boomerang thrower (1982, for longest throw, Sydney Australia), caretaker for family members, artist in clay, and aspiring healer.
The sixties were a rich inspiration for Peter, but he was already on a path of discovery. His older brother Jack was an intelligent and adventurous individualist, far from the mainstream and ahead of his time. The first inspiration to paint came from his uncle Ed Ruhe who was a world traveler and professor of English, and a collector of aboriginal art. Through him, Peter learned to appreciate the work of Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, and Giorgio de Chirico, among others, on trips to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and he read the surrealist writings of Andre Breton. Later, enjoying the substances that typified the era, he developed a style that could encompass his expanding vision- painting huge canvases that could be filled with the detailed particularities that came to him as he worked. During 70’s, in the period in which he worked with ceramic sculpture, he was associated with the Haystack Mountain School, and later had his own private studio in Berkeley. He has shown in NY and other cities either in one-man shows or group exhibitions.
From those early days, he continued to project a vision ranging from psychedelic to surreal, to one that seems to overlap on a more common view of reality, with fields and trees and sunlight. But even his charming and idyllic landscapes show something behind the veil of illusion- their shadows a little too pronounced, their skies a little too blue- a reminder that reality is what one sees it as, that the reality that you see, and the one I see, are all products of our inner vision and not an unmoving limited object, known and quantifiable. The world we see through Peter Ruhfs eyes is a layered, illusory, illusive thing, even if it appears to be familiar.
“Art is frozen eternity, a portal that goes through to the outer world.” The way Peter sees the world is through the eyes of a seeker on a search for meaning and for wholeness. “The expression of the artist shows humanity what exists.” What we see in his paintings is what he sees, on his journey- images of realms where no photographer has been.
“ ’Psychedelic’ means mind-expanding,” and art makes this type of experience accessible and shows humanity what exists, he said. “My work is more like sacred art. Not like contemporary art: it’s timeless. It manifests something bigger than the self.”
In his apartment in Shelburne Falls Massachusetts, Peter works in pencil, gouache and oil, and has a developed a line of greeting cards. In recent years he produced a series of paintings illustrating the life of Mary Magdalene, based on texts discovered in Egypt in the 19th century and the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, referred to as the “Gospel of Mary, and continues to produce many landscapes of the Deerfield Valley.
The show includes paintings from Peter’s earliest, to his most recent, showing the consistency of his development as a painter. Many works are for sale, visitors are welcome.