I met Peter Gronquist about a year ago and immediatly connected to this out-of-the-box thinker and artist. Gronquist is well known for his Gucci rocket launchers, chain saws, and other art works that feature high end brand names on weapons of destruction. No stranger to utilyzing taxidermy in his works, where animal’s horns have been replaced by gold plated AK-47s, Gronquist continues to juxtapose luxury with nature while bringing up questions about money, culture, and society.
We were able to sit down with the artist and talk about his latest show entitled “American Mythic” at Gallery Hijinks in San Francisco.
Before we get into questions about American Mythic, both you and your wife Kimberly recently relocated with your young son back to your hometown of Portland, how is life treating you there?
Yeah we’re back in portland and couldn’t be happier. We will always love the bay, but raising a baby in West Oakland wasn’t exactly ideal… up here we are surrounded by parks and nature, so we are loving it.
What is your overall statement with your latest show American Mythic at Gallery Hijinks?
I’m interested in what would seem to be America’s collective view of itself, sort of an imaginary collection of macho icons that are by themselves supposedly patriotic, but when combined create something completely ridiculous. I like the idea that all of these “American” ideals: guns, gold, excess, taxidermy, hunting, titties, red meat, whatever, can come together to achieve a parody narrative of our history and culture. It’s funny because I’m sort of mocking these things, yet I completely love all of these things. I find that most of my work boils down to me mocking myself. I’m fully aware that the shit I love is retarded.
One of the more impressive pieces in your show is a taxidermey deer fawn with a rocket on it’s back, can you tell us a bit about this piece and your process in creating it?
Yeah I like how that turned out. I got the deer on eBay. I may have told you at the show that I killed it but I was lying. I was telling everyone that. Anyway the process was fairly long after that, I built the frame, dipped a bunch of silk flowers in resin then attached them to the ground. Then I had it painted black and clear coated at a body shop (cant use auto paint in my new studio)… let that dry a couple weeks, then sprayed with a chrome deposition spray, long-story-short… it chromes shit. Oil painted the background and fabricated the antlers with wire and resin and encaustic wax. Put it together. This must sound incredibly boring, but the process is fun!
Not at all, actually that sounds pretty rad! How do people react to your work in general, specifically your gold plated weapons and grenades?
People love gold. Gold is beautiful, but it also represents money. I find that the people that love the guns either love them because they literally love gold and machine guns and designer labels (not intended), or because the think these things are cheeky and/or ironic (intended). the funny part is that i feel like the people that don’t get the joke and honestly love them at face value are exhibiting much more sincere emotions.
We’ve noticed that you’ve included some paintings in this show such as “Meat Maid” featuring a naked women posing on a steak, are you painting more these days?
I still consider myself a painter first and foremost, even though i’ve been sculpting a lot lately. I’ve really been into encaustic (hot wax) painting these last few months, so I’m probably going to be doing that whenever I can take a break from sculpting for my next show, which is all sculpture. Sometimes I feel like sculpting is my job, but painting is what I really love.
American Mythic runs April 2nd – April 30th, 2011 at Gallery Hijinks in the Mission District of San Francisco.
– Story and Photos by Michael Cuffe, Editor in Chief at Warholian.com
To check out American Mythic at Gallery Hijinks visit: http://www.GalleryHijinks.com
For more of Peter Gronquist’s work visit his official site here: http://www.petergronquist.com/