Quattrocento & La Strada
Oct 11, 2018 - Nov 18, 2018
Each piece in the exhibition, created using Petter’s iconic woven newspaper technique, features a woman whether in portrait or in a street scene created over the course of the past year. Since 1986 when she arrived in California where she still lives, Petter has used newspaper as her primary medium. She soon after invented her own weaving technique using tubes of rolled newspaper to produce the wall pieces she is known for today. “I have always been inspired by challenge,” says Gugger, “so when I decided to work with newspaper, it was in fact due to the limitations/difficulty this material presented - both in regard to color palette and fragility.”
The use of newspaper as a material holds important significance to each work. Petter says, “Since each work I create holds all the world/local news of that particular time frame, it becomes an historic piece within itself. All artists date their oeuvre with great importance - reflecting their moment in time. My works not only hold a date, they also represent an historic documentation of our time… each piece becomes a diary.” Petter saves the newspapers she has delivered to her home and, if needed, supplements her stockpile from an avid newspaper-reading friend.
From afar, Petter’s work appears painterly as if created with impasto. Yet as the distance between the viewer and the work collapses, the piece takes on a mosaic, refracted quality as it reveals its material reality. What at first appear to be thick brushstrokes turn out to be small knots, turns, and twists of paper. The tension within the weavings themselves - the medium, surface, subject matter, color, and form - creates contradictory yet simultaneous binaries such as fragile/strong, abstract/realistic, historic/contemporary, male/female, subject/object, dark/light, positive/negative, foreground/background. This multifaceted tension drives both the content and process of Petter’s work.
Highly collected worldwide, Petter’s work can be found in numerous permanent collections such as Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and at Frederiksborg Castle (The Museum of National History), Denmark. Petter’s Dog Barking at Two Women is currently on view through May 29, 2019 at the Denver Art Museum as part of the cross-departmental exhibition Stampede: Animals in Art. She has previously been commissioned to create portraits of President Bill Clinton for the Washington, D.C. Danish Embassy and President Barack Obama for his 2008 campaign headquarters.