In every generation, there are those who resist the sweeping tide of proscription and conformity. For New York based artist Gio Black Peter, such a reaction comes naturally. Through his work, he is able to break through the hardening shell of uniformity and tap into something more honest. While undeniably modern in his approach—often utilizing technology to offer a multimedia-fueled commentary on current issues—the artistic results are irrevocably rooted to the past.
In his bold use of color and shape, Peter’s work is perhaps most reminiscent of the French post-impressionists. Sensual and emotive, he has a Paul Gauguin style primitiveness to his art, where the everyday and the natural are fused with an almost dreamlike sense of the fantastic. Picking up from where Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat left off in the 1980s, Peter is steering the downtown New York art scene back to the unapologetic celebration of life-outside-the-mainstream that it was before complacency began to take hold.
At its core, Peter’s art is a provocation and, whether addressing issues of violence or oppression, alienation or love, it seeks to spark a reaction in its audience. While that reaction may be visceral and dejected, or ecstatic and inspired, the ultimate aim is to fuel awareness, both of the self and society. In that, Peter’s art is a mirror of his own life—the two are, at times, indistinguishable.
Like Jean Genet, there is a bit of an outlaw in Peter, a bit of a fighter—he doesn’t back away from the demands of his artistic expression. Equally willing to strip down on camera for a blood soaked orgy as he is to work through sleepless nights when in the grip of inspiration, Peter breathes a life unfettered by shame, unencumbered by fleeting notions of morality. His work is a testament to the belief that it is possible to celebrate life without being bound to the form most common. He reveals the truth that unexpected beauty and unanticipated vitality can be found by challenging the norm, by pushing past our collective comfort.
- James Mcdonald, Festival International de Mode et de Photographie à Hyères