Peter Kenar – Chicago, Illinois

My Path Ablaze Wood, bronze, blood, brandy, Installation 8' x 30' x 15’ 2013

My Path Ablaze
Wood, bronze, blood, brandy,
Installation 8′ x 30′ x 15’ 2013

Briefly describe the work you do.

Generally my work tends to be object and installation based. Shifting between two modes of composition, I tend to address a heavy subject of ritualistic practice which usually brings a somewhat darker visual outcome. The other mode addresses humor and vulgarity. While attempting to be lighthearted, I somehow manage to connect the two states of mind visually.

Formally, I use components of religious architecture and I combine them with elements of human and animal figure.

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist?

I was born and raised in communist Eastern Europe.   The environment of my upbringing lacked sensory stimulation of video games, cartoons, commercials and colorful toys. Perhaps, because of this depravation I was able to deeply observe my surroundings and pay attention to local traditions and culture. In catholic Poland, church was the dominant component of everyone’s life. As a child I became curious to why that is. Church had the prettiest buildings and the most colorful art. This early visual stimulation remains with me till this day and it plays an important role in majority of my recent compositions.

When Memory Carves Destiny Wood, rope, acrylic paint, blood, nails installation 2015

When Memory Carves Destiny
Wood, rope, acrylic paint, blood, nails
installation 2015

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Studio practice indeed does cover a broad range of activity for me. I often think of it as something that never stops. There is this time when I get into this room with my artwork and my materials and tools.   This very time is almost sacred to me. I could compare it to a ritual as I have developed certain behaviors associated with me being in this workspace. While physically in the studio, I tend to only listen to one album for the duration of the fabrication of a given piece. This repetition turns into meditation and then euphoria. Sometimes I might add a few drinks to this equation. All of this energy is focused and poured into the hands on process. It’s very important to me to have a strong connection with my work in every way possible.

Second part of studio practice means research, observation and analysis. This is the part that never ends and it happens everywhere. This is the part that is becoming progressively more and even more important for the composition of my work.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in before you first started making art?

As I first started making art I knew only of the romantic part which means making stuff in the studio. This reality has changed for me completely. Today, I additionally see myself as a writer, diplomat and perhaps even a businessman. Writing grants, proposals and applications often holds a priority over the actual studio time. I am not happy about this reality.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I always try to work at night. This is not simply because I am less likely to be bothered. This is the time when I feel more active, stimulated. At night I feel like I am able to enter a different state of mind, state of euphoria. Everything feels more poetic as the nocturnal studio process often turns into a psychological celebration.

Two Faces Two Blemished wood, rope, blood, graphite 6' x 4' x 3' 2014

Two Faces Two Blemished
wood, rope, blood, graphite
6′ x 4′ x 3′

How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?

In the past five years my work has changed a lot. I used to only care about the final product and its visual impact as the other components were left behind. Today my feelings and intensions focus on the process and the potential symbolism of the materials used. The act of making is more important to me then the actual finished piece. I believe that this is apparent in my work.   Now, so much more is taken into consideration allowing all components of my compositions to be entirely intentional. Despite these significant changes, it’s relatively easy to recognize both, my old and new work as mine. I have always enjoyed a specific atmosphere and a certain crudeness as evidence of manipulation by a human hand.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

Everything influences the work I do. In some sense, every piece I make is influenced by something else. Music and written word inspire me always. Because of my current occupation, I see art and meet artists every day. Some bring great encouragement and inspiration while some make me want to never touch art again. This is actually an awesome opportunity for me to mention that I lean towards the “Black and or White”. This means that I love the opposite sides of each spectrum while the middle ground does not interest me very much. This means that sometimes Madonna’s “Into the Grove” and sometimes the darkest most aggressive occult Metal are the inspiration for my work.

Have you ever been pulled in a direction of a pursuit other then being an artist? What are your other interests?

Music is my deep love. I must listen to it always and I must play it. My pursuit in its direction was quite serious at one point as I was recording albums, and touring with a band. Till this day I can think of very few things which bring me more satisfaction then performing in front of a live audience. Science or more specifically biology, originally existed as something I would have chased after instead of art. I enjoy the theory as well as the laboratory protocol. Surgical procedures fascinate me so I gladly provide friends or myself with stitches when necessary.


IMG_3376Peter was born and raised in Krosno, Poland. At the age of fourteen he moved to United States and has resided in Chicago as well as Chicago land since. He has received his sculpture BFA from Northern Illinois University and his MFA from Indiana University. Peter currently works for Methods & Materials based in Chicago. During the past year he has worked with Charles Ray, Liz Larner and many other artist, for the installation of their exhibitions. Peter lives and produces his work in Chicago. He has exhibited nationally in New York, Chicago, Seattle, as well as internationally in Japan, Poland and Italy. This year, his most recent solo exhibitions were hosted at Flow Space Minneapolis and Ave Arts in Grand Rapids.


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 


About 365Artists/365Days

The purpose of this project is to introduce its readership to a diverse collection of art that is being produced at the national and international level. Our goal is to engage the public with information regarding a wide array of creative processes, and present the successes and failures that artists face from day to day. The collaborators hope that this project will become a source for exploring and experiencing contemporary art in all its forms.
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