Gabriel Pionkowski, exploring canvas

If painters have always deconstructed and reconstructed the concept of painting, Gabriel Pionkowski does literally. Holder of a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the 28 year old artist explores the canvas, definitely defining himself as a painter and not as a textile designer or textile artist. The very medium of the painter, namely the stretched canvas on its frame, is the base of his reflection.
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Deconstructed (unweaved), painted (colored), rebuilt (rewoven), the screen turns to create a work of art (textiles), which plays with the background (the subject of the work) and the motif (graphic representation). The pieces exhibited reveal the usually hidden canvas, creating a kind of abstraction, delivering a certain exploration of emptiness too.
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In addition, on the point-of-view of textiles (and not on that of the artist), the “canvas” also refers to a weave type (yarn crossing of warp and weft). Canvas is the simplest woven surface, the oldest with no possible distinction between its frontside and backside…
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The textile surface seems to have been the center of your approach for 4 years. What triggered it off?
For the most part I am a self-taught weaver, arriving at this process through a sustained practice of painting that has been concerned with ways of giving figure to the “ground of painting”.
Can you describe your working process?
For the past few years I have constructed my paintings through a process of deconstructing ready-made artist canvases, painting each thread individually, and reconstructing the canvases on a traditional hand-weaving loom. I think of the process of deconstructing and reconstructing the canvas as a silent performance meant to re-invest the ready-made canvas with the gesture of the subjectile. In the process the picture place is de-stabilized, and becomes imbued with what I like to call the “possibility of turning”, a motionless movement that has become the motif for my most recent work.
In which way has textile craftsmanship enriched your work?
As a painter I feel the act of weaving helps re-align my vision, agitating it, further situating it in the interval between above and below.
The looms allow a certain reproducibility. What is your approach with regard to the uniqueness or exceptional aspect of your paintings?
The loom literally enables this re-presentation, or as you put it, the reproducibility of the ready-made canvas surface. If there is any uniqueness to my paintings I feel it is in how they achieve, on one level or another, a different way of thinking about what a painting can be. Of course, this judgment is not up to me.
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