Continuing through August 3, 2019
The title of Peter Gronquist’s current show, “Searcher,” is apt, as one may search in vain for a thematic throughline. Gronquist’s repertoire has consistently strived for immediate graphic appeal in a variety of media. When I first encountered his work, he was known for taxidermied animals fused with gilded guns. In “Searcher” the stated interest is Light. Or is it? Certainly, Gronquist offers shiny gestures, but light is too broad an instrument for this body of work. Large gradient paintings on acrylic are lit from within by LEDs in multicolored arcs. A bronze sculpture with a matte finish is a winding doodle. The lone video installation, “Visual History of the Invisible 2,” shows a suspended, windblown sheet of gold fabric undulating above a mountain range that catalyzes a dramatic visual rhyme with the peaks below.
“Wind Memory 1 and 2” freeze smaller sections of fabric in resin and silver nitrate. The gallery touts them as “Gronquist’s limitlessness encapsulated,” but to the contrary, the vibe is cold, wet, downright sadomasochistic compared with the flow of “Visual History.” Three pinched corners suggest that they were suspended while inundated and fanned. If we accept that Gronquist’s work revels in the synthetic, it works, but we are coaxed by titles and gallery texts to think just the opposite. The objects are well-wrought, so the issue is not creation, but curation.
Yet, where is Gronquist searching? The acrylic paintings recall light-and-spacers like Dan Flavin — perhaps an inverse of Stephen Antonakos’ backlit matte surfaces. But I don’t see Gronquist searching among artists, or light or, for that matter, the natural world. He’s searching for an effect. For those who have done a lot of searching, these effects won’t be entirely novel, but they are beautiful nonetheless.