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Peter Bonde 
Mirror Man
June 30 – July 31, 2021

Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present its second solo exhibition with Danish artist Peter Bonde, on view in Los Angeles from June 26 through July 21, 2021.  Mirror Man, which takes its title from Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band’s 1971 album, consists of 27 new paintings that expand upon Bonde’s unique abstractionism and ongoing interest in defacement and vulgarity. 

Peter Bonde’s frenetic, multi-layered works combine a highly gestural approach to oil painting with an interest in appropriating the commodified objects and surfaces of everyday life.   In Mirror Man, he works by applying swaths of color either to traditional canvas or ultra-reflective mirror foil.  Some sections of the paintings are densely built up with layers of oil and acrylic paint, rendering the surface an opaque haze of blues, greys, and pinks, while other sections are covered with only a thin wash of color.  Such focus on color and surface is challenged especially by the mirror foil medium, as Bonde’s light drips of paint reveal the foil below, throwing viewers back on their own images.  Here, Bonde’s paintings transform into a kind of motion picture, incorporating the ever-changing movement, light, and textures of the rooms they are situated in.  The overall effect of such experimentation is to both estrange viewers from a merely contemplative relationship to the art object and from their own reflection, so often seen clearly in our mirrors and cameras kept close at hand.

Bonde’s surfaces are further imbricated with the mundane materials of our lives through three-dimensional additions he makes to his works.  Working in the tradition of assemblage artists, Bonde affixes objects to and on works in the exhibition.  For instance, an Yves Saint Laurent handbag hangs off ANGRY BIRD -- YSL; an “angry bird” is collaged into ANGRY BIRD -- I HATE MYSELF AND I WANT TO DIE; and a T-shirt, a relic of Bonde’s days in a punk band, is glued onto the canvas of T-SHIRT PAINTING #1.  These maverick additions tap into Bonde’s longstanding sense of Dada irreverence and humor, testifying to his allegiance to the confrontational aesthetics of the Danish art scene in the early ‘80s.

Blankness and chromatic energy, surface and mirrored depth, art and commodity, anger and play – these are key conflicts that energize Bonde’s work.  Such unique formal experimentations explore the intrinsic ambivalence of the iconoclastic act.  Bonde’s surfaces all undergo a process of defacement, be it the defacement of the viewer’s own reflection in a mirror, or the defacement of dollar bills in ANGRY BIRD – UNTITLED. In HOW IS YOUR CAREER GOING, for instance, Bonde superimposes the text “HOW IS YOUR CAREER GOING” upon a photographed portrait of himself from the late nineties; this text is duplicated in both the upper-left and upper-right corners of the work. A series of energetic strokes of pantone orange cluster and spread in the center of the otherwise blank canvas.  Not only does Bonde vandalize his own image with an anxious, compulsive question of worth and value, but the frantic and somewhat violent energy of his brushstrokes simultaneously comprises and disfigures the canvas.  Here, what at first seems like an iconoclastic rejection of painting is also an affirmation of it.  Bonde has, after all, produced an entire show’s worth of challenging, provocative, and often beautiful works.  That is what makes artistic processes of defacement so charged: the profane holds up the sacred—an ambivalence rooted in the very etymology of the Latin sacer, which means both accursed and holy.

Peter Bonde (b. 1958) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Art in 1982, where he went on to serve as professor of painting from 1996 to 2005.  He has recently been working on a series of collaborative projects with Danh Vo, which showed at spaces such as the Osaka National Museum of Art in 2020 and the 58th Biennale of Venice in 2019.  With Jason Rhoades, he represented Denmark at the Venice Biennale in 1999.  In 2020, Bonde had solo shows at Sorø Kunstmuseum (Sorø, DK), Martin Asbæk Gallery (Copenhagen, DK), and Natalia Hug Gallery (Cologne, DE).  The artist is represented in all major Danish art museums including the Danish National Gallery, ARoS, Trapholt Museum for Moderne Kunst, Esbjerg Art Museum, as well as Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany, and in private collections worldwide such as Elgiz Collection, Turkey and Axa Northern Stern, Cologne.  Bonde lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.