09 Mar 2021

Spotlight on: 'Eros' by Peter Spanjer

Unframe London

Spotlight on: 'Eros' by Peter Spanjer

We focus on artist Peter Spanjer’s ‘Eros’ series, consisting of vibrant prints, which depict abstracted erotic visual imagery.

We explore the work of London-based, Nigerian born artist Peter Spanjer and his ‘Eros’ series. ‘Eros’ is made up of vibrant prints addressing ideas of conflict and resolution. Whilst focusing on his newer works, we hone in on the colourful and energetic quality of each artwork, which he refers to as ‘digital paintings’. The ‘Eros’ series consists of 40 works and his new works within this are full of energy and desire. Spanjer’s more recent additions to the series, in many ways embody a change in tempo, whilst still having an intensely energetic quality.

Eros 35

Peter Spanjer

Eros 35

Print, 2020

100 x 70 cm

Eros

For his ‘Eros’ series, Spanjer chooses gay & black adult films as the subject of his prints. Importantly, in his process he uses the video as the starting point to extract stills from, once he completes this he destroys the film. For him, the medium of video becomes something that is interchangeable and that adapts through his making process. Spanjer creates his ‘Eros’ artworks from a personal place, subsequently addressing personal resolutions. He uses conflict and resolution as two ideals to work from, his interest lying in standing with conflict and addressing it.

“There are feelings of denial with what inspired the work in the first place because of how removed it feels. It was interesting to re-imagine the black body and repurposing the original purpose of the work. That for me was the most exciting” Peter Spanjer

In contrast to other ‘Eros’ works in the series, Spanjer focuses on fluidity as he moves across different media to find what is right for each work. So in many ways, he intended these particular new works to be far more explicit than they became, due to the nature of the imagery he used. As an equally important aspect to his process, he analyses the original source to a point of eventual abstraction. For his new additions to ‘Eros’, Spanjer released them in two different stages and these new prints are his most recent.

Eros 35

In his piece ‘Eros 35’, Spanjer visibly intends the print to evoke a sense of beauty and end up being visually pleasing. The recent piece has a familiar quality to it and he intends them to be placed in homes and domestic environments. As a result, through this sense of familiarity, he explores duplicity within these works and provokes conversation. Spanjer builds a dialogue between the viewer and his new works, which eventually reveal themselves as something else entirely. Visually, Spanjer creates aesthetically pleasing but conceptually complex additions to this series.

Eros 32

Peter Spanjer

Eros 32

Print, 2020

100 x 70 cm

Eros 32

For this series, he uses extracts from gay & black adult movies, compiling and transforming them into abstracted prints. Once he has used the footage to make stills, he then destroys the clip. In many ways, within these new works, Spanjer challenges how we might aesthetically identify sex within gay culture and view gay black men. However, he doesn’t attempt this through overt sexualisation or historical connotations but rather as complex strokes of vibrant colour.

Spanjer refers to his ‘Eros’ prints as ‘digital paintings’, each work so abstracted from it’s original form. For the most part, Spanjer adapts these new works to a point where they are almost unrecognisable as erotic stills. He intends for the new works to feel familiar, as if the viewer were looking at a painting. Crucially, he protects the under-layer and true origin of these works through his vibrant abstraction of them. He implores viewers to really use their imagination to see the erotic underbelly of each piece. Simultaneously, for some viewers, the origin may never be seen as he abstracts the footage to an unrecognisable form.

Eros 41

Peter Spanjer

Eros 41

Print, 2020

100 x 70 cm

Eros 41

Spanjer portrays temptuous and vibrant shapes and forms in ‘Eros 41’. What’s more, he reiterates these themes of conflict and resolution in his abstracted finish of each piece. Initially the works have a sense of mystery and are abstracted to viewers. He transforms these film clips into complex strokes of vibrant colour, simultaneously removing them from their context. Once he has taken stills, he destroys the original film, eventually only the prints exist. For ‘Eros 41’, most of all, Spanjer proposes that the work visually stands on it’s own without context. Prior to knowing the conceptual history of these pieces, importantly this initial reaction from a viewer is key.

Peter Spanjer

Within his body of work, crucially Spanjer aims to confront his own sensitivities through research on self evaluation and engrained cultural narratives. Spanjer’s work challenges an internalised belief system, in particular he tries to pull apart ‘ideas of blackness’ within the contemporary art world. For Spanjer, he focuses on the journey of collecting the imagery as a process in itself. In the making of these prints, in particular he conjures themes of conflict. Mostly, this stems from unanswered and unresolved questions. In the same way, he addresses ‘intention’ in his work. Most often, he makes decisions of whether the work will end up as a moving image or still image.

In the same way, Spanjer creates work from a very personal place whilst he addresses personal resolutions. He uses conflict and resolution as two ideals to work from, his interest lying in standing with conflict and addressing it. For these new prints, Spanjer intended the works to be far more explicit than they became, due to the nature of the imagery he used. An equally important aspect to his process, is to analyse the original source to a point of eventual abstraction.

Discover more about Peter Spanjer’s work.