September 29 – October 17, 1997

Peter Schuyff: Recent Works

Main Gallery

The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery is particularly delighted to present the joint exhibitions: Peter Schuyff and Patterned After. 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 stylistic banner: Neo-Geo. 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, ebulliant, triumphant abstract art of the sixties (all seen within a current framework). Rather surprisingly, unexpectedly, the formation of Schuyff’s career and recent work has an important Alberta and Lethbridge connection.

Born in the Netherlands, Schuyff’s family moved to Canada; in the later sixties to Lethbridge, Alberta. There, his father took on a position as professor of economics in the recently founded new institution, The University of Lethbridge. Encouraged to play and explore amidst the new grounds of the university, the young Peter Schuyff, at ten years old, soon discovered the wonders of the world of art. Peter Schuyff credits, the university arts sub-culture of the ‘art barn’, the original visual arts building of the University of Lethbridge, as his inspiration to pursue a life with art (see the accompanying text: “ten years old in Lethbridge”). Some thirty years later , the fruits of this elemental contact return to the University of Lethbridge.

Peter Schuyff was educated at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver; and spent a period of residence at Toronto before adopting New York and Amsterdam as his home. His striking, paintings of the eighties were widely exhibited and discussed; the most dominant indicators of international acceptance accrued to his work. The artist entered the world of New York art celebrity status. By the early nineties, the heady days of art speculation were over; and many brilliant art careers were left in shambles. Peter Schuyff was left to contemplate what had happened to him; why the art world, once so receptive, had abandoned his work. It was through the fortuitous circumstance of an invitation to attend an artistic residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, (Banff, Alberta) that Schuyff was able to re-kindle his long love-affair with art-making, At Banff, in the summer of 1997, Schuyff re-visited his own artistic past. He re-dressed his first inclinations towards picture making, re-constructing images from student days, (see exhibition site photo # 5; lower photo: The two long horizontal works are re-makes and recollections of his first college art projects).

In a staggering productive outpouring, Schuyff created in a few brief weeks, about two dozens impressive, large-scale tempera paintings on paper. The elements of the compositions and subjects declare a re-establishment of the basis and building blocks of his art, a primer of his personal vocabulary. The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery is pleased to be have the occasion to present these critically important works by this artist at this stage in his own deliberations. They constitute a new beginning, a re-engagement with the art world, that the artist, ever so briefly, felt the necessity to jilt.

An exhibition of this type is a unique occasion at the University of Lethbridge. The University Gallery customarily forms its exhibition programmes exclusively from its permanent collection. However, on this occasion we are privileged to exhibit the recent works of an artist whose paintings are already a vital part the university of Lethbridge permanent collection. His earlier work, Phyllis from the permanent collection is the pivotal work around which the show, Patterned After was devised. Patterned After surveys the use of pattern and repetition in selected 20th century works.

Schuyff, currently residing in New York, has been celebrated and exhibited all over the world in hundreds of solo and group shows. Currently he exhibits at the Douglas Udell Gallery in Edmonton and Vancouver. In addition, this current exhibition of Peter Schuff’s recent work will be displayed at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York.

Jeffrey Spalding

Side Gallery
Precedents and Affinities

Jean (Hans) Arp, 1887-1966
Philip Guston, 1913-1980
Lawren P. Harris, 1910-1994
Fernand Leger, 1881-1955
Paul Mansouroff, 1895-1985
Robert Morris, 1931-
Dieter Rot, 1930-
Victor Vasarely, 1908-
Tim Zuck, 1947-

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