Newcastle artist Peter Lankas features in a new Gallery 139 exhibition at Waterloo

At The Servo: A Peter Lankas painting titled Tex Girl.
At The Servo: A Peter Lankas painting titled Tex Girl.

Newcastle artist Peter Lankas is a magician Why, you ask? Well, his work slows down and winds back time. This has to be a good thing in a fast-paced, panicked world.

Take this depiction of a Caltex service station. It takes us into the moment. We feel like we’re right there in those silent and sometimes peaceful moments of filling up at a servo.

“The girl filling up is called 'Tex Girl’, as she is wearing cowboy boots,” Peter told Topics.

“The story extends to the Caltex sign, where only the C and TEX are lit up. She is off to see Tex her man. A narrative as such develops as the painting progresses. I do like my narrative.”

We’re quite fond of narrative, too. What’s the world without stories and images? And what’s Australia without art?

Newcastle artist Peter Lankas paints with a sense of nostalgia.

Newcastle artist Peter Lankas paints with a sense of nostalgia.

Ahn Wells, director of Gallery 139 in Beaumont Street in Hamilton, said Peter's work “embodies the Australian consciousness”.

“He paints the suburbs and its inhabitants like documentary photographers record the changing nature of the world around them,” she said.

“His works are full of the colour of the suburbs – the brown/red brick houses, green lawns and bright blue skies under the full Australian heat.”

Also in his paintings are old cars, washing lines, streets, power poles and industrial Newcastle. He finds beauty in the banal.

Peter and fellow artists Dino Consalvo and Paul Maher will feature in a new exhibition that starts at The Depot Gallery in Waterloo on Tuesday.

The Peter Lankas painting titled Thinking of Dick Roughsey.

The Peter Lankas painting titled Thinking of Dick Roughsey.

Ahn has organised the Sydney exhibition, titled "Gallery 139 presents Consalvo, Lankas, Maher”.

Peter’s star has been rising. He is exhibiting as a commended finalist in a national art prize, the Calleen Art Award for painting.

“By taking his work to a new audience in Sydney, I hope to see him further his art career and gain more exhibition opportunities,” Ahn said.

There’s a subtle irony and humour to Peter’s paintings. As an artist, he believes in maintaining “the playfulness and lightness of being a kid”. 

It’s something he teaches his students at Newcastle Art School at TAFE in Hunter Street and in private classes.

“Art keeps you young at heart,” the 58-year-old said.

“I have to keep on reinventing and renewing things, so I keep on entertaining myself.

“There’s nothing worse than the angst-ridden artist who lives in misery and thinks it’s doom and gloom and all too difficult.”

The highest compliment was when someone tells him “I get up every morning and look at your picture and it transports me somewhere else”.

There’s an unmistakable Australian quality to his paintings.

“I wasn’t born in Australia, I was born in the Czech Republic,” he said.

“I didn’t come here until I was 11. I do feel like an outsider – perhaps outsiders tend not to take things for granted.”

He came to Newcastle in 2000.

“When you come from the outside or from somewhere else, it really does hit you there’s something unusual and in a way romantic about it.”

Miss Piggy

Has anyone seen a pet pig? This question was posed on the Lost Pets Newcastle, Hunter Valley & Surrounds Facebook page.

“Miss Piggy escaped two days ago from our property in Limeburners Creek, roughly weighs 100+kg,” the post from Rachel Taylor said last week.

Miss Piggy was “much loved and very friendly”.

“I can only assume she is searching for a boyfriend,” Rachel said.

There was no word on whether Miss Piggy had been found.