Peter Schuyff (1958) is a Dutch-born painter living and working in Amsterdam. Raised in Canada, he studied at the Vancouver School of Arts. Schuyff’s mother was an artist and his father a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University. He became fascinated with the radical views of the art world in the 1960s and 1970s and particularly with such famous figures as Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning.
Moving to New York in the 1980s he became a fixture of New York’s East Village art scene and a prominent member of that era’s loosely defined Neo-Geo movement. Schuyff left New York in 2003 and returned to Vancouver for a short while before eventually returning to his native Holland and setting up his present studio in Amsterdam.
Before popularity and ease of computer graphics made such imagery familiar, Peter Schuyff used paint to create abstract forms from light and shadow and to depict complex patterns that wrap around an irregular surface. During his career, he has continued to explore these spatial and optical effects.
His work focuses on the basics element of illusion – on the conspicuous manipulation of light and shadow, form and perspective; revealing simultaneous elegance and subtlety. Indeed, during an interview the artist stated that he would paint “for the eye and from the hand” and when asked about what response he aimed to elicit from a viewer of his work was “satisfaction” (Peter Schuyff’s Shining Stuff, Richard Hell, first published in: Associazione Culturale Contemporanea: Peter Schuyff, Milan, 1994).
In direct opposition of his own words, Schuyff has been constantly put together with many movements such as geometric abstraction, pop surrealism, conceptual abstraction or neo-geometric conceptualism, when in actually his art eludes easy definitions or categories. Schuyff rarely intervenes or interacts with the content of his paintings; he paints onto them, not into them.
Part of his aim for satisfaction, Schuyff began to shift towards sculpture. Large wood trunks created in 2016 was made using a chainsaw and a chisel. He recreates these shapes called in the 1980s “biomorphic” or “neo surrealist”. By his own account “the whole thing started with carving sticks on my walks. I’ve made long walks in New Guinea, the Amazon, Burma, jungles, I like jungles. At the end of the day there’s not much to do and I started carving sticks while staring off somewhere. […] when I got back to New York I’d carve pencils in front of the television” (Matthew Rose, 10 Questions for Peter Schuyff, June 26, 2009, Art Blog)