Peter Harris’ work is the stuff of everyday life. His paintings resonate with the emptiness and fullness of the vast landscape. By illustrating late night scenes of trucker stops, dimly lit motels, or lonesome stretches of highway, Harris’ paintings have a certain reverence for the stories embedded within the commonplace, a tenebristic brand of average Canadiana. By doing this, Harris contributes to the expansion of the landscape genre, distinctly diverging from the foundations laid by the Group of Seven of representing Canada as a vast, rugged, untouched landscape and zeroes in on our modern day relationship with it.
His imagery places a keen focus on sites of human industry where during the day, the hum of activity would define the landscape. In Harris’ mind the wilderness seems to exist in spite of the country, it remains where it is, what makes a country are the people who work everyday at their respective jobs, keeping the industrial train, the energy behind what we call Canada rolling ever forward. In his choice of locations and his focus on the night-time Harris captures the silence, the sense of freedom and wilderness in the midst of urbanity – a momentary respite from our sisyphusian lives.