September 9 – December 17, 2022
Mignoni is pleased to present the gallery’s first exhibition with Dutch-born American painter Peter Schuyff (b.1958). This will be a solo exhibition showcasing a startling new group of 8 vibrant and colourful abstract paintings made by the artists throughout 2021 at his studio in Bari, Southern Italy.
Taking the form of either a checkerboard grid or a succession of vertical, coloured stripes that have been disrupted by illusionistic light effects or shadows appearing to fall upon their surfaces from some unknown, exterior source, these powerful geometric paintings playfully operate in an ambiguous space that is simultaneously both representational and abstract. Functioning according to their own logic, they belong to a type of work that Schuyff has made consistently, ever since first coming to prominence in New York in the 1980s.
It is, however, only in their rich use of heightened and more vibrant colours and of sharp light contrasts reminiscent of the effects of strong sunlight falling over their surfaces that Schuyff’s recent paintings reflect the influence of his new working locale in a small, Pugliese studio overlooking the Mediterranean. In all other respects, the eight radiant paintings on show at Mignoni remain consistent with the painterly practice that, in the 1980s, established Schuyff as a leading pioneer of the ‘Neo-Geo’ movement – a tendency that included other such diverse talents as Peter Halley, Phillip Taaffe, Alan McCollum, David Reed, Ashley Bickerton and Jeff Koons. Schuyff, for his part has always remained resistant towards any attempts at labeling or categorising his work and has often attempted to disassociate himself from the constraints of the `Neo Geo’ label. He once, for instance, wryly disarmed a journalist, by telling her that he only agreed with the term ‘Neo-Geo’ as he ‘supposed’ he was “neo” because I’m very young and … “geo” because I make geometric pictures.’
Schuyff’s paintings are all self-evidently hand-crafted and indeed the ‘wrist-action’ involved in their making is the one area over which he takes direct responsibility. Believing, for the most part, that the creation of one painting both determines and informs the development of the next. Schuyff often thinks of his role as a kind of medium or translator of his painting’s demands. ‘My work has a life of its own’, he has said. ‘I see my presence in their making as the vehicle through which they’re made [and to me it’s a matter of getting out of the way.’ Schuyff believes, for example, that some of his best work comes about when he allows the innate mystery of his pictures to emerge by removing himself as much as possible from the decision process, allowing his pictures to dictate their own needs. ‘I start off a painting very simply with an idea of the structure and from that a kind of obsessiveness develops that renders spirituality almost inevitable, and the work takes on a life of its own’, he told Valerie Gladstone back in 1988, adding more recently that ‘some of my best abstract paintings were reduced to a clearly simple set of rules which I simply had to follow till the end. I have to pay a lot of attention while taking little or no responsibility.’