A Different Perspective

Peter Pinson, Selective View of Maitland from the River Bank, 2006

In his avowedly ‘selective’ view of Maitland from the riverbank, Peter Pinson (1943-2017) has created an abstract rendering of the natural and built forms of the city that simplifies them to their essence. Using acrylic paint, Pinson divides his composition into black-rimmed horizontals of river and bank, balanced by the vertical blocks of buildings. A lonely cloud and a well-behaved tree provide contrast with their rounded forms of oval and circle.

Pinson had a varied career as an artist, teacher, curator and writer. A year after he painted this view of Maitland for the exhibition View of Maitland from the riverbank (with apologies to Jan Vermeer and View of Delft) at Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) in 2006 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the visual arts as an educator, painter and writer and for his contributions to a range of arts organisations. Pinson died in 2017.

Pinson’s landscapes and still lifes were notable for their cheerful expanses of colour in flattened planes that fully embraced modernism’s rejection of pictorial realism. His view of Maitland is no exception. It dispenses with foreground and background, instead layering ‘near’ and ‘far’ in bands of colour and design that express the exposed earth of the riverbank and the green verge that tops it. Above these natural elements squats a grey block that vividly proclaims its status as a Lowes menswear store – the kind of uninspiring but necessary establishment found in any suburb or regional town in New South Wales.

Unlike Vermeer, who may have used a camera obscura to get the correct perspectival view for his image of the town of Delft, Pinson has dispensed with perspective altogether. There are no depths or shadows in this sunny design that effectively conveys the essence of Maitland – a regional city built on the levee banks of a major river.