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Peter Schuyff

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery
526 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor, 212-243-3335
September 7 - October 13, 2007
Reception: Friday, September 7, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery will present an exhibition of new work by Peter Schuyff. In conjunction with the exhibition, the gallery has published a brochure with an essay by Terry R. Myers.

Of the body of work in this exhibition, Myers writes:

Schuyff has kept the surrealist (or is it something like “surrealist-ish”?) fires burning in his work primarily through his use of found surfaces for his paintings and drawings. This way of working, of course, has as rich a history as does geometric abstraction or Surrealism: for example, in the big-name work of Picasso, Duchamp, Schwitters and Rauschenberg. By placing his “mark” on found works or art that are not big-name, Schuyff not only changes them, but also spawns a relationship that we cannot help but accept as a new kind of reality, one in which things not normally brought together are somehow made to be at home with each other, even if they will never completely get along. It’s a tough thing to pull off without it becoming a joke or, worse yet, condescending. Schuyff accomplishes what is the equivalent of a high-wire act by balancing humor with what I want to suggest here is a certain amount of compassion, if not empathy. ...

It would be easy to isolate one of Schuyff’s paintings - for example, the one in which he has painted a button-like circle-face over the face of dog - and just point and laugh. Of course, it would be a stretch to consider the found painting as “good,” and none of Schuyff’s choices of scavenged supports would make it into the gallery on their own. (Unless they had been found by Jim Shaw. His 1991 Thrift Store Paintings exhibition is a key part of the historical record that has contributed greatly to the current state of painting, along with Schuyff’s contemporaneous accomplishments.) What makes Schuyff’s paintings work is that the laughter comes from both directions. By transforming one of his “signature” motifs into its own kind of ridiculous “face” (a “Schuyffey” face?) he levels the playing field, instigating a give-and-take that oscillates freely between that hipness and rigor I mentioned at the beginning. His trademark trompe l’oeil lighting effects seal the deal between his “figures” and the borrowed grounds, reminding us that Schuyff and these other unknown artists have more in common than not.

This is one reason why found portraits in particular lend themselves very nicely to Schuyff’s renovations: they allow him to go easy around the eyes, which are, as we know, the windows to the soul that are supposed to provide us insight into, let’s say, the tears of a clown. ... It’s tempting to assess his various moods or personalities in each of them, whether in what the portraitist “captured,” or what Schuyff himself has added to them (in most cases an array of visionary dots, some free-floating, others in a grid, or, no surprise, locked around the eyes), or in what happens in the space “between” both artists work as it reflects what Schuyff decided to do to such typical types of portrait (pseudo-mass) production. ...

Schuyff ’s tubular concentric rings are part chakra, part target, centering us formally and psychologically for the serious game at hand, a game that he has mastered over the years as he time and time again has engaged the everyday. Peter Schuyff lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He has exhibited internationally since the early eighties, most recently in Paint at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver and in East Village USA at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. This will be the artist’s first exhibition with Nicole Klagsbrun and his first New York show in six years. Terry R. Myers is a critic, independent curator, and Associate Professor of Painting & Drawing at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Since 1988, he has contributed to numerous international journals, such as Art Review, Flash Art, Parkett, and Modern Painters. His recent book is Mary Heilmann: Save the Last Dance for Me (Afterall Books, London, 2007).
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