Statement I: I like to paint, and as an architect I am aware of how I make a painting, pastel and drawing. Recently I started in a new studio, with more windows and light ever. So I am aware of how light has influenced my work, be it still lifes, landscapes or figurative works. I have painted in a garage, a basement, in my former Manhattan office, in a former New York printing loft, and now in the new space. The printing loft, with only fluorescent lighting, yielded rich, fauvist coloration. Thus, surroundings are formative. One can see landscapes right from my studio windows, but also squirrels, turkeys and deer.
A most common and legitimate question is “what is the source of your idea?” My answer is that so many things around evoke images, phenomena, or personal history. So there is plenty to go around. I find my challenge is to select one, and feel confident enough that such an evocation can compel me long enough to continue applying paint to the surface.
Usually the finished product is recognizable from that at the start, but sometimes it becomes more. I recall a two-axis layout which “evolved” into a three-dimensional landscape, all in the course of two days: The painting was the result of layers of applications. For me, typically there is tension on the surface, even fury, but repose as the resolution.
Peter Charapko studied oil painting under abstract expressionist Esteban Vicente and wash, drawing and life drawing with George E. Ortman. Graphics and typographic studies were with Aaron Marcus, a physicist and prominent digital theorist.
At Princeton his initial interest in economics led to urban planning and then graduate school in architecture. He has had his own firm since 1979. Painterly elements are basic to his design and composition. These include hand-washed panels in brownstone renovations and hand-rubbed rag-brushed panels on a church iconostatic chancel screen, with oils, gesso, and gold leaf accents. He studied, interned and taught with architect Michael Graves during Graves’ formative years, when Graves’ work, initially houses, included murals, wall painting, cubist plans, and polychromy.
Many of Charapko’s recent works are impressionistic still lifes. Elements are rendered recognizable but often in fields -compositions of their own – and paint does not cover every inch of a canvas. The palette will recall the high color saturation of fauvism a century ago. Some charcoal draughting on the canvas creates both sketch and finish elements.
On a personal note, he writes: While the images are flat on their surface, their looseness and tentative brushwork forces a viewer to regard some things in the round. And close up there may be calm, or fury, but overall, repose.
Beachscape (above): oil on canvas, 24” x 24 “, 2020 / Farmscape: oil on canvas, 24” x 36”, 2020 / Sun & Earth: oil on canvas, 24” x 36″, 2020 / Tiny Caviar with Espresso: oil on canvas, 20″ x 20″, 2021