Peter Shear Lets Paint Be

Peter Shear, “Camden” (2023), oil on canvas, 22 inches x 25 inches

I first saw Peter Shear’s work in 2017 at Devening Projects in Chicago and I have been following it ever since. A longtime resident of Bloomington, Indiana, he is a self-taught abstract painter working in oil on canvases or panels of modest sizes. The largest one I know of is the recent “Leverage” (2022), which measures 28 by 30 inches and is included, along with 33 other paintings, in Peter Shear: Following Sea, his debut exhibition at Cheim & Read (March 23–May 13, 2023). While the number of works might suggest that the exhibition is about dependable production and replication, this is not the case with Shear, who refuses to develop a signature style, motif, or subject. As the poet Robert Kelly wrote, “style is death.”

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