Multidisciplinary artist Peter Gronquist wants to make you feel.
Q: Your recent work feels very positive, free and boundless. How did this evolve from your previous pieces involving taxidermy and commentaries on consumerism, do you see us living with more or less consumerism today?
I think that I came to a turning point in my life some years ago, and I realized that I wanted to make different things. I wanted to make things that made me feel, as opposed to things that made me think. I think collectively we are living with more consumerism every day. We all know that, so it’s become less interesting to me. I’m now more concerned with matters of the heart. Simplicity, to me, seems closer to the truth that I’m looking for.
Q: Launch, Mimic and Distortion are made with acrylic, enamel and programmed LEDs, how has technology inspired your work, life and practice?
I was always vehemently against technology. I didn’t go on the internet until about 2002 I think. Then I realized how dumb that was. I’ve learned to embrace and be excited by new things and ideas. The intersection of technology and art is incredible. I recently created a “gesture” in virtual reality, had it 3D printed in wax and cast in bronze, a process that has only just recently been possible. The definition of what’s possible is changing by the minute.
Launch, Mimic, Distortion, 2019, Courtesy of the artist
Q: Your infinity mirror works appear to be a meeting ground between your ideas of the minimal and the maximal, what is its meaning to you?
I use the mirrors for a couple reasons, firstly because they are so visually striking. At first glance the infinity mirrors, as the name implies, remind viewers of the concept of infinity. To me they actually represent the opposite, that everything is temporary and will die eventually. With each repetition of the image it loses about 10% of light, making it fade into blackness. True black, which is the absence of light, therefore is achieved in between 10 and 15 reflections, and the viewer actually can see the physical object fading away in front of them.
Q: Your "Immortals" series has a dark humor to it - creation out of destruction of everyday objects. Is this series influenced by Marcel Duchamp's & Man Ray's readymades?
Yes, this is my version of the readymade. Beyond that it’s what you get when you combine the four elements together in a single violent moment, and it stops in time. The readymade didn’t stand a chance.
Peter Gronquist, Herringbone Jets, Shatter, Everything and Nothing, 2016, 2017, 2019, Courtesy of the artist
Q: You’re from Portland, Oregon, but you studied in New York and San Francisco, what made you return, and how does living in Portland inspire your work?
I had kids. We were living in a warehouse in west Oakland with a baby, our families were still up in Portland, so we moved home. I miss those places for sure, but Portland is incredible. I think the abundance of nature here definitely inspires my newer work. It seems impossible to live in a place as naturally beautiful as this and not be affected. I spend a lot of time outdoors up here.
Peter Gronquist, A Visual History of the Invisible 2, 2019, 74 x 71 inches, Courtesy of the artist