Peter Gronquist at Unit London

Addressing themes of impermanence, excess and escapism...

Peter Gronquist is a multidisciplinary artist based in Portland, Oregon. Gronquist’s practice incorporates painting, sculpture and installation, utilising mediums such as aluminium, ceramic, and mirrors as well as the environment itself.

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Peter Gronquist is a multidisciplinary artist based in Portland, Oregon. Gronquist’s practice incorporates painting, sculpture and installation, utilising mediums such as aluminium, ceramic, and mirror as well as the environment itself. Gronquist has a profound interest in the emotional potency of colour and temporality of our world, from the objects we produce to the transience of humanity, addressing themes of impermanence, excess and escapism.

Gronquist’s early sculptures juxtapose the natural with the artificial - stuffed animals which have their antlers decorated with gold replica weaponry and fashionable brand logos - a humorous reflection on our revolution of desire through consumerism. During this period Gronquist incorporated ideas relating to America’s mass consumption-obsessed society by integrating the icons of their purchasing power into his work, much like Warhol and the American Pop artists of the 1960s, who lived through the longest uninterrupted period of economic expansion in history, and whose work made reference to the resultant surge in mass production. Gronquist's self-dubbed ‘hyper-American’ approach, appropriated designer labels, symbols of wealth, luxury, and the firearms of America’s gun culture to critique his society and the mutation of the American Dream, "Our culture puts money and violence on way too high of a pedestal. I think these days people no longer see the line between entertainment and reality."

The death of the artist’s young daughter led to a slow artistic overhaul pushing Gronquist to re-evaluate not only his subject matter but his entire focus and discipline. Over the past seven years Gronquist has moved away from the production of artworks relating to taxidermy and increased his capacity to explore emotion through the use of colour. By differing the colour gradients throughout his works the artist is able to create a mesmerising intensity of feeling. Gronquist has gone on to further this effect – a number of recent works embody a corporeal sense of light, appearing to glow, without being lit. Gronquist describes this process akin to a religious experience, allowing an emotional outlet from which the artist can immerse himself.

Peter Gronquist’s Mirror works develop the notion of captivation, for both the artist, as creator, and the audience, as viewer. Gronquist uses infinity mirrors as an independent medium, but considers their significance not as an entirety, but instead as a representation of everything we hold dear to be temporary. The artist believes that infinity as a concept in this context is a fallacy and can only exist in the abstract. As light passes through impurities in glass, it loses roughly 7% of its light with each reflection, resulting in the images fading backwards into blackness, or nothingness. Ultimately, the image slowly ceases to exist. By presenting this nihilistic view of the work, Gronquist calls the viewer to make a choice: does this mean that everything dies so nothing matters, or, that everything dies so everything matters, and is therefore precious. Gronquist comments – "more importantly it exposes the man-made item as weak, and therefore highlights its own temporary nature. It affirms explicitly that our mark on this place is the most temporary of all. The works of man, followed by the elements, and with them the universe, will eventually die."

Born 1979 in the USA, Gronquist resides and works in Portland, Oregon. He attended the School of Visual Art New York and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from San Francisco Art Institute in 2001. He has shown works at The Pittsfield Museum of Art, Scope New York and Miami, Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco, and Winston Wachter in Seattle. Gronquist’s exhibition - Shape Shifterwas showcased at Unit London in February 2019.

In the studio with Peter Gronquist, 2017

PETER GRONQUIST | UNIT LONDON | 2017

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