A dance between Victorian-era sensibilities and early science fiction, Peter Ferguson’s latest body of work takes the viewers through jovial narratives of maritime trials and triumphs. Set at the turn of the previous century, Ferguson’s textured, dimly-lit oil paintings for his upcoming show at Roq La Rue in Seattle, “Fire in the Map Room!,” offer glimpses into the lives of a cast of seafaring characters.
There is something decidedly cinematic about Ferguson’s style. One piece, titled 8 Characters From The Lost Play Le Marchand Tulip by Frederic LeChapeau (above), divides the panel into a grid akin to a split-screen shot that could easily be the intro to his work, if it were a film. His other paintings for the exhibition function as snapshots of pivotal plot twists within his characters’ lives. A man walks into his house to discover a monstrously-large dog. Archeologists uncover unfathomable skeletal remains.
But there are quiet moments, too, as many of the characters don’t seem in the least perplexed by the strange, surreal monsters and sea creatures that invade their space. Ferguson does not play the part of an illustrator, however, and his paintings, cinematic as they may be, don’t provide a clear-cut narrative. Instead, they challenge the viewer to decipher the strange happenings of his imaginary world.
“Fire in the Map Room!” opens tonight, April 3, alongside Camille Rose Garcia’s “La Danse Macabre” (previewed here) and will be on view through April 26.