Peter Schuyff

Peter Schuyff

27.03.14 → 31.05.14

Sorry We're Closed is pleased to announce an exhibition is pleased to announce Peter Schuyff's participation in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, curated by Anthony Elms, Stuart Comer, and Michelle Grabner. Born in Baarn, Holland in 1958, Peter Schuyff grew up in Canada, where he studied at the Vancouver School of Art. From there he became a seminal figure in the East Village art scene in the 1980's. During the last twenty years the artist made several trips through the various jungles of the world, including the Amazon, Sumatra and New Guinea. These experiences had a profound effect on his artistic practice.


Peter Schuyff continues to explore pattern and repeating forms with a series of watercolors, oil paintings and sculpture. In the two dimensional works, he uses an obsessive technique of building up layers of paint through which light emanates and mysteriously penetrates from the surface. This arduous layering enables him to create patterned fields of geometric shapes, ribbony lines and vortices. For the sculpture, twisting corkscrew-like forms have been hewn out of logs or pencils. Often color is added to the edges of large-scale pieces to create a cascading ribbon. On a smaller scale, carved pencils repeat patterns of the larger pieces but by placing the pencils in rows, the artist creates striations of saturated color. In both works, sculptural tension is created through the intensity of the twist or wind of the cylindrical form.


The work of Peter Schuyff has been internationally acclaimed for some two decades, exhibited and associated with an extraordinary group of art makers coming to attention in the eighties, whose contributions have been gathered under the banner Neo-Geo. ( Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, Philip Taffe, Asley Bickerton, etc)This designation refers to the renewed energy and commitment by this group, to the values of geometric abstraction, gleaned from admiration for the legacy of Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian and the vibrant, ebullient, triumphant abstract art of the sixties (all seen within a current framework). His international exhibitions include solo shows at the Pat Hearn, Paul Kasmin,Larry Gagosian, Tony Shafrazi, Leo Castelli, Sperone Westwater, Lucio Amelio and Bill Maynes Galleries.



Since the early 1980's the painter Peter Schuyff has been known for bright, playful optical abstractions and surfaces of handkerchief-like transparency. In his first New York gallery show in five years, he gives this signature thinness a wry conceptual rationale, and some art historical heft, by painting real handkerchiefs with snappy trompe l'oeil flair. It doesn't entirely work.


The 30 oils, each 37 by 30 inches, are installed cheek to jowl around the gallery. They are based on Raphaelle Peale's 1825 ''Venus Rising From the Sea -- A Deception,'' an image of a seemingly seductive nude woman obscured by a big square trompe l'oeil drape that takes up most of the image.


Peale was mocking the puritanical mores of the time, which frowned on nudes and were endorsed by his father, the painter Charles Willson Peale.


Eliminating the nude, Mr. Schuyff has put the theme of the handkerchief hanging from its rope to an overlong series of variations. Sometimes the draped squares resemble past Schuyff paintings, sometimes designer scarves. There are geometric patterns, bits of words, even an American flag. The surfaces are still thin, but now they have a varnished Old Masterish sheen. As usual, his display of skill and cleverness is entertaining; unusually, it is nothing more. Mr. Schuyff makes smarter paintings when he has less on his mind.


— Roberta Smith