Born 1970 in St. Louis, MO
Lives and works in New York
Pieter Schoolwerth’s vivid multimedia paintings, collages and wooden reliefs create complex figurative scenes that analogize how technology, or other ‘forces of abstraction’, as he calls them, produce the world we live in. He is specifically interested in how these elements affect the interpersonal communication and atomised social relations of contemporary society. Schoolwerth investigates the split between material substance and the virtual space: he says of his work that it functions in the space between things, genders, species, and also between physical and conceptual space. Schoolwerth also founded the label Wierd Records in 2006, which released music across the genres and also strongly influenced the New York club scene of the time through music events such as the weekly Wierd Party. Schoolwerth's artistic practice has therefore always been about the possibilities of figurative painting as well as those of music and performance.
His elaborate production process combines sculpture, photography and painting and moves between digital and handmade modes. Photographs of live models and objects form the compositional base of his work. From these photographs, Schoolwerth creates hand-cut three-dimensional foam-core models, only for these assembled scenes to be photographed again and digitally manipulated and edited. This image is printed onto canvas and finally, painted over with oil pigments, adding details and texture. The end product is a dazzling, multidimensional scene, at once playful but also profoundly disorienting and illusory. The artist uses the term ‘reverse cubism’ to describe his work: a way of representing multiple objects from a single point in time, and again an analogy for the simultaneity and fast-paced movement of the digital age.
Pieter Schoolwerth received his BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1994 and has since then been active across several artistic mediums including film, music, photography, painting and sculpture. In 2021 he had a solo exhibition at the Kunstverein Hannover, Germany. Schoolwerth has shown at many other institutions, among others at FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art, both in New York, Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach and Centre Pompidou, Paris. His work can also be found in the public collections of the Denver Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Orange County Museum of Art, and the Phoenix Art Museum.