Inspiration in its purest form comes from nature and great artist must find unique and inspiring ways to share their interpretation of the world around them. Introducing Peter Bynum. We first spied Peter's work on display in the Mansion in May 2012 showhouse and it was definitely the most alluring, visually stunning and unique focal point in any of the 40+ rooms. Why? It was an illuminated, back-lit, glass-painted work of art and it radiated beauty.
Peter, a former creative director in NYC, decided to take his background in philosophy, aesthetics, ideology, and epistemology to his art studio on the banks of the Hudson River in Upstate New York and examine the natural properties of paint. When working with paint on clear surfaces (first plexiglass and then glass), he found it unvieled its natural, organic structure that includes a branching property. He tossed, splattered, dropped, dribbled, squished and mashed paint onto the glass surfaces and let it embrace its natural tendencies. He then mounted between one to six painted panes of glass one in front of the other and threw in illumination via light. The backlight, that is customizable with a dimmer, make his works of art "breathe light" and "transcend their physical properties, appearing soft, organic, and ephemeral" when viewed from a distance (Dede Young, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art). The outcome is truly a beauty to behold.
We spoke with Peter to find out more about what inspires him and what museums and galleries he frequents as well as some other illuminating questions as to what creatively makes Peter tick.
What inspires you as an artist?
The intelligence of nature. Not just the beauty, but the perfect designs that have evolved over millions of years. Plants and animals have learned to live on the earth with lightness and grace. My friend David Rothenberg just published a book called Survival of the Beautiful that argues that beauty in natural design enables organisms to survive and triumph.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I have breakfast in my garden looking out over the Hudson Highlands, then I paint for a few hours. My studio assistant comes around lunchtime and I brief him on what I want done, then leave for a hike or lunch with a friend. Most evenings, I’m back in the studio painting.
The final piece (here, No. 127) is the composite effect of layered and individually painted glass panels illuminated by an LED light source. Image excerpted from Peter Bynum's New Work 4.
What’s one thing you will always splurge on?
Antique rugs. Orientals, Berbers, Kilims – the patterns and colors are so beautiful and you feel the hands at work. To me, rugs have more character than furniture.
What’s your favorite museum or gallery?
Dia/Beacon in Beacon, NY, where my studio is. It was built as a Nabisco box factory right on the Hudson River, and it uses no artificial light. They have the giants of Minimalism – Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt & Donald Judd.
How would you describe your personal style?
A mix of rough and refined, tough and tender, grit and elegance, town and ranch. Hippie and western but with some downtown in there somewhere.
What is your most prized possession?
A 150 million-year-old fossil of some of earth’s first organisms -- a parting gift from my sister before she died.
No. 36, image and detail. Image excerpted from Peter Bynum's New Work 4.
Who are your style icons?
Che Guevara, Tom Ford, Julian Schnabel, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Coco Chanel, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Springsteen, the Dalai Lama, Mick Jagger, Leonard Bernstein, Fidel Castro and Andre Balaz.
What are your favorite books & resources on art, style and/or design?
Painting Today by Tony Godfrey, Art in America, Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Bomb & Frieze. Anything Guy Trebay writes, Vicente Wolff designs, Terrence Malick directs or John Malkovich acts in.
What is up next for you? What can we expect to see in the next year?
I’m about to move into a new 7,000 square foot studio – a huge building that used to be a Masonic Temple. Then I have an installation at the Edward Hopper Museum in July, ArtMrkt Hamptons also in July, and a solo show at Littlejohn Contemporary in New York in September.
Peter calls his work "illuminated paintings" and we must agree, they are exactly that. He finds current paintings to be static and he works to create a piece of art that makes the viewer part of the painting for a long period of time. Do yourself a favor and find one of Peter's paintings somewhere nearby and go see it; you'll know just what he is talking about.
All images courtesy of Peter Bynum.