CAN Review -The first time I laid my eyes upon the work of Peter The Roman I was immediately transfixed by the glossy sheen of his Mask 7, and the underlying sense of unease that the image conveys. Masks are a potent symbolic force in many cultures and art, from Japan to Africa, and there is naturally a growing use of them in contemporary art due to the Covid-19 virus. While masks have different meanings and connotations from shamansitic rituals to protection from contagion, Mask 7 represents something entirely different. The tight contorted features and tiny mouth opening suggest a grotesque undercurrent that pervades the image. The dark sunken eyes peer out calmly from behind the mask, but again the scale seems unaturally small, compared to the proportion of the mask itself. The seductive qualities of the colour, sheen and gloss of the mask seem at odds with the more disturbing qualities, and only add to our sense of unease.
The next work ‘No Greek God’ takes the concept of the classic bust of a greek sculpture and manipulates it into a broiling mass of dripping layers that conceal the facial features. The glossy bright pink surface is also at odds with our natural familiarity with classical Greek sculpture, which has weathered to a white marble effect. Three openings within the head area help the viewer to connect a sense of facial Pareidolia, where we attempt to provide a sense of the human within this mass of dripping layered form. While the shoulders and upper torso appear more ‘human-like’, there are still areas where large drips of sculpted material threaten to drip down from the shoulders
The final piece ‘Sensitive Sole’ reveals a disemobodied foot that has some of the previous examples of dripping material and a sense of the unnatural and grotesque. There are some subtle differences in the quality of the material, which has more of a ‘matt’ texture, instead of the lush glossy examples above. The tonal quality at the bottom of the foot and toes is wonderfully realised and leads our eye down to the deformed big toe, which appears to be in the process of deforming or melting away.
Peter The Roman’s work subverts our expectations of what 3D software can accomplish, and there is a clear sense of a sculptor revelling in the 3D software tools that allow him to realise his work in such an imaginative way. CAN look forward to more of Peter The Roman’s work as he embraces the cryptoart world.
Peter The Roman
Social media links and website profiles
What is your background as an artist in general? *
I come from a contemporary art background, with a BA and Masters in fine art. I have been a painter for over 10 years, around 4 years ago I started to play with 3D software and I instantly felt a rush of freedom. I found myself making very different work compared to my paintings, I thought less about the meaning and just had fun with it. I never felt satisfied with the outcome of my paintings, nothing ever sat right. I feel more sense of fulfillment with my digital work, I’m not entirely sure why but it certainly hits the spot for me. I’ve always been quite good with computers so it made sense for me to use them to create art.
What is your overall process in generating art?
I try to make something every day, either by sculpting a new head/body or by setting up a scene and rendering. I’m always thinking of new ways to evolve my work, to improve my skill set. The possibilities are endless when it comes to 3D software so it’s easy to get carried away with it all, I think it’s important to step back and strip it all down. Simplify things and set your own rules of making.
How would you describe your art in your own words?
The sculptures/renders I create have a luring/lustful physicality to them, often quite grotesque but all with a hint of humor. My paintings were very sculptural with thick layers of paint so I guess I always gravitate to this sort of work. Maybe this is why I like working with 3D so much, it’s a crossover of painting/sculpture/photography.
Favourite artists / influences?
I go through phases, many of them are contemporary artists. At the moment I have been looking a lot at Gillian Wearing’s work and her self-portraits. She would create realistic masks and dress up as other people. They really resonate with me and it plays on the whole idea of the self. Quite haunting but also funny, which I like. The Chapman brothers are also a favourite of mine, I’m also discovering great 3D artists all the time.
How did you discover the new blockchain world of Crypto Art and NFTs in general?
I was following an artist on Instagram (Ry David Bradley) and he announced that he sold his work on SuperRare as an NFT, I was like what the hell is an NFT? And so I fell down the NFT rabbit hole and I’ve kind of been obsessed with it since. Interestingly he sold his NFT artwork for more than his physical work.
Has the digital nature of cryptoart NFTs changed how you approach your art practice?
I wouldn’t say it has changed the way I approach my work but it has certainly galvanized my production, I’ve not slept much this week as I have been researching constantly on Crypto art and working, my poor computer has been rendering while I try to sleep….so much fan noise, I’m sure its gonna blow any second.
What if anything, has surprised you about this new area of art practice?
The community, it’s a real eye-opener. Coming from an art background I never really felt connected with that world. I always felt like an outsider, but the NFT community has been so open so far, with random people DMing me about NFTs and liking my work. I have just got onto the Clubhouse app too, loads of NFT groups chatting away, there’s a real sense of something special happening.
How would you like the field of cryptoart and nfts to evolve over time?
It’s very much at its infant stage, which is really cool and exciting. The future will be more broadly across the arts with other mediums. I also think it will only be a matter of time (if not already) that the contemporary art scene will be more heavily involved with NFTs with big galleries and artists. The NFT marketplace feels like a gold rush/wild west at the moment but when things settle a bit then we will see its full potential. It is a possible game-changer and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.
How can access and information to this new field of art practice be encouraged?
As this is such a new medium there are still a few hurdles when purchasing Crypto currencies, which can scare collectors/artists off, but hopefully, soon there will be more of a smoother experience for the user. It’s only a matter of time before it goes mainstream, at the moment it’s like the old days of the internet. Where you had to dial up the 56k modem and load Internet Explorer or Netscape or whatever it was called. Back then it seemed complicated and unknown, but now it’s so molded into our everyday lives we take it for granted. This is possibly where blockchain and crypto art is heading, it could be integrated into every creative content ever created.
You can view Peter’s work on the various social media platforms and websites above, and purchase them on: https://opensea.io/collection/peter-the-roman-collection