Monumental bulls, life-size elephants, blackbirds paired with apples, pomegranates, or acorns … the works of sculptor Peter Woytuk continue to explore the concept of balance, scale, and composition. For years Peter lived and worked in Asia, close to the foundries that had the ability to cast his oversized sculptures. Currently working from his studio on the East coast, he is exploring creating smaller works and taking time to let himself be himself through these maquette-sized pieces.
“I’ve always loved composition and the juxtaposition of concepts … but these days I prefer not to conform even more … I’m letting go and letting it flow.”— Peter Woytuk
Tracing his earliest influences to his architect father and textile artist mother, and the family’s extended trips throughout Europe to see great art and architecture, Peter views these memories as a “continuum of ideas” that fill his mind with images and concepts. As an art major at Kenyon College in Ohio, he initially focused on photography, but sculpture began to capture his interest. Upon graduating he took an apprenticeship with Philip Grausman, developing the technical knowledge and skills needed to create cast sculpture. Drawn to certain animal forms, his unique style soon became evident.
Peter’s group of monumental bulls came from his attraction to the “sprawling mass” of enormous reclining bulls seen at farms and fairgrounds throughout the Midwest and New England. The distilled shape of the bulls, their simplified forms, mirror the lines of the hills that surrounded his studio. Placed in a group, the negative space and the relationship between each sculpture became as important as the sculptures themselves.
“I consider the grouping to be one unified sculpture that the viewer is able to walk around and within.”
Bronze sculptures of this size can pose certain challenges. By moving to Asia, Peter was able to live and work where the materials were more readily available and where there were foundries with generations of experience at producing large-scale bronze works. Over the years his monumental works have become part of the collections of the North Carolina Zoo, the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, as well as numerous other collections, from California to New York to Thailand. From 2011 to 2012 close to 20 of Peter’s monumental sculptures were part of a public art installation exhibited along Broadway in NYC. Included were elephants, ostriches, a curious blackbird on a large watering can, sheep, hens, a kiwi bird, and much more. See the ‘Woytuk on Broadway’ map below to view the layout of this astounding installation.
“Sculptors can’t get scale out of their system. We’re always pushing the scale. So when you have the opportunity, you run with it.”
Peter’s pieces often give us an alternate glimpse. By contrasting form and texture, scale and symmetry, he teases our minds, making us rethink what we’re looking at. Instead of a bird with a small apple, he shows us a small bird perched on an oversized apple. Or he may place an oversized bird with oversized fruit, challenging our sense of proportion. At times the texture of both the bird and the fruit is smooth. In other instances, the bird’s feathers are more defined and the fruit is dimpled. He may pair the organic with the manmade, a green apple with stacked nuts and bolts. The time he’s been able to spend working in his U.S.-based studio has given him the opportunity to experiment with patina, and he has seen his understanding of color change and evolve. Wherever he creates, his focus is on enjoying the process and sharing that joy with the viewer, with us.
“It doesn’t make rhyme or reason … I just play and it just flows. That’s basically it, I don’t really work, I play. I throw common sense out the door and I play.”
“I’ve admired Peter’s work for decades. His ability to distill the shape of each piece into a simpler form while maintaining the complexity of representational sculpture is captivating. He gives us a glimpse into the everyday life of animals, with the hint of a human quality that we immediately identify with.”— Shanan Campbell, Owner of Sorrel Sky Gallery