Apologies for the cheesy title but that opulent period got a modern tweak as AF went to the plush opening reception last June 6th. Baroque came to mind but it is the Neo-Baroque ideal that exuded from the work of Peter Gronquist for his solo show One In A Million at ArtNowNY. AF got captivated by the gold accented sculptures and opulent but satirical inflected artworks.
There were a lot of taxidermy creatures of the forest that stared back placidly with antlers protruding extravagantly into skeletons armed with machine guns, roses with skulls covered long horns, and the exaggerated curvature of what is essentially a feature in the animal that can double as a weapon. It was like stepping into the study of an eccentric billionaire with a penchant for hunting and gilding his trophies. What beautiful trophies they were but if you take the whole piece in context – it’s a commentary on American consumerism married with gun violence. Is Gronquist glamorizing assault weapons such as the double G emblazoned Gucci logo on an elaborate gold firearm? In a manner of representation that our pursuit of extravagance or the gilded life can be the death of us which Gronquist painstakingly fashioned with his sculptures.
The filigree and scrolls of gold that embellished the animal sculptures can be amusing to some and appalling to others. It is fashioned to a point where it is an iconic representation and bordered on religious subtext. A crucified Mickey Mouse, an albino fawn seated in an elaborate triptych frame, and corresponding pieces merited reverence. Gronquist gave a glittering rendition of such timely and controversial issues about gun control, violence in our time, poverty of values amidst a wealth of cultural junk, etc. For one to pay attention, the shimmer of precious gold had to be employed. It got you to look, now perhaps if one thought carefully then it all comes together. The paradox of life + death, poverty + wealth, and lies + truth go on full visual throttle. You take on the fantastical beauty but scratch the banal reality underneath.
Gronquist brings to life our blatant desires and fears into one luxurious swirling embodiment with his sculptures and paintings. The gold is there to accent what we don’t really want to confront. In every sense of the show title, it is a one in a million opportunity to see past the luster. The barriers have been “Baroque’n” as Gronquist brought it on home with insouciant wit and panache.
Peter Gronquist: One in a Million / On View: June 6 – July 6, 2013
ArtNowNY. 548 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor. NYC, NY 10001
To View Video, please click here:
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
select images from A&O Public Relations courtesy of the artist
event photography by: Max Noy
video link by: Jamie Martinez