On display through the month of November, Magnet is featuring the works of local artist Peter Max Lawrence in a show entitled, â€śContemporary Dilemmas for the Ancient Godsâ€ť, a playful take on serious modern issues, including the current Middle East war(s), homo-racism, and other self-inflicted tragedies. The work derives fromâ€”and exploresâ€”sacred and ancient traditions that use paint and other media as an outlet for spiritual exercise; these complex and provocative paintings are a collective pop-prayer that invokes primal responses in the vein of global shamanism. A pantheon of multicultural deities, such as the â€śWoman de Willendorfâ€ť, â€śMongwa-Great Horn Owl Katchina,â€ť â€śApollo,â€ť â€śJoan of Arc,â€ť and â€śKrishna on the Cross,â€ť are depicted in this genre-crossing show.
â€śThese physical manifestations (collage, painting, and video) are remnants or relics and are simply documentation of my existence,â€ť explained the artist in a brief but scintillating interview. People, politics, and pervasive mythologies are the prevailing themes found in his work. Wood, paper, and paint are materials he commonly uses. With a sense of passion, he insisted, â€śMoving images move me deeply, therefore I feel compelled to make my own.â€ť
Born in 1977 in Topeka, Lawrence was raised in Kansas City, Kansas.
In his work, he has continually challenged the boundaries between art, religion, and popular culture. A persistent need to experiment in both media and subject matter, has led him to find new ways to document the happenings of his everyday life.
Over the past decade, Lawrence has worked with various media, from drawing and film, to painting and performance. Informed by his middle-American upbringing, he brings an intense study of recent art history and a compulsion to document. His work reveals an acceptance that everyday life (itself) is an â€śart work in progress.â€ťÂ Â
â€śMy method in most of the work that I do revolves around spontaneous gestures that are in reaction to the activities of my daily life,â€ť he explained. When asked about his fascination with current events, Lawrence confessed, â€śIâ€™m a news junkie.â€ť
But donâ€™t be fooled by such a diminutive revelation: Lawrenceâ€™s work exhibits an incisive and well-conceived depiction of current events through deification. When pressed further, he explained, â€śMy intentions with the work are diverse and sporadic. It is mediation, therapy, and a convulsion of sickness all at the same time.â€ť Then, as a wry smile spread across his face, he felt compelled to add, â€śIâ€™m known for ridiculous tangents.â€ť
Lawrenceâ€™s talents are not expressed solely through his pantheon in paint, as he points out, â€śI am currently in the process of finishing a feature film experimental documentary titled Queer in Kansas and seeking finishing funds.â€ť
Queer in Kansas is an autobiographical film that carves an articulate (experimental) account of the history and creative process of Lawrenceâ€™s life as an adopted child, who grows up queer in Kansas, struggles to find his voice, and continues to emerge as a sexual being and artist now living in San Francisco. All while trying to answer: â€śWhat does it mean to be an artist?â€ť The film shows how the artist survived teenage-life in a dilapidated mid-western city, a brutal beating in a parking lot by homophobic peers, and a rape in a gay cruising park. This film seeks to explore the ultimate truths (and lies) that can be found through the process of introspection. Though dark and somber at places, its use of humor and a great sense of joie de vivre balance the film.
Queer in Kansas is a self-deprecating film that relates the coming-of-age story of a societal outcast by incorporating a multi-media esthetic. Using his life/body as a canvas, he has approached filmmaking much like he would his more well known two-dimensional works (painting, pen & ink, or collage). This film began with no preconceived notions, just a blank surface, using the objects that mean the most to him. He then began to fill in the areas with what seems to be instinctually relevant or visually pleasing.
This project is not a conventional narrative film, yet it uses and abuses the convention to tell the story. It manages to recreate, with the disparate source material, the intensely personal experiences that make up this part autobiography and part personalized philosophy. The movie underscores Lawrenceâ€™s belief that â€śyou are what surrounds yourself.â€ť All of it adds up to a deeply personal film that in the process has become full of captured moments of a performance artist dissecting the supposed universal truths.Â
â€śContemporary Dilemmas for the Ancient Godsâ€ť features the following works: â€śPhoenix Contemplating the Sparkâ€ť (charcoal and oil on poplar wood panel); â€śThe Opposition to...â€ť (oil on poplar wood panel.); â€śA National Identity of Fake Apologies and Instant Aggressionâ€ť (oil on poplar wood panel); â€śMamarie vs. Phalliciusâ€ť (charcoal and oil on poplar wood panel); â€śThe Acceptance of...â€ť (oil on poplar wood panel); â€śApollo Ponders the Time-Famineâ€ť (charcoal and oil on poplar wood panel); and â€śDeath Poses for a Portraitâ€ť (charcoal and oil on poplar wood panel).
The artist is generously donating 50% of all sales receipts directly to Magnet, the Castro communityâ€™s hub for health resources, counseling, and social events.