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Peter Sowiski (b. 1949), Light Attack II, 2013-2016; handmade paper with polychromed pulps, 108 x 144 inches; Collection of Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Artist, 2016

Peter Sowiski (b. 1949), Light Attack II, 2013-2016; handmade paper with polychromed pulps, 108 x 144 inches; Collection of Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Artist, 2016

Peter Sowiski is known as a pulp painter. His impressive multi-panel images are created within the handmade paper itself, rather than being applied to the surface afterwards. He demystifies his process by sharing these techniques: “I usually work over a base sheet formed in a Nepalese or Asian style. I paint with thin applications of pigmented abaca or cotton fiber. With stock batches of the primaries plus black, I use turkey basters and custom containers for applications of thin washes, enabling quick adjustments of color and consistency. Additionally, I stencil, pour, spray, hand manipulate, or do whatever it takes to drive the image into being.”

Light Attack II, from the series Military (2013-16), represents Sowiski’s dark, cautionary vision of helicopters, stealth bombers, and other aircraft, and the people who service them, as symbols of American military actions around the world. He explains: “The work has been a personal affirmation of both the image and its support, which has formed the basis of my philosophy as a pulp painter—that economy of equipment and processes can yield complexity and sophistication. Looking at military might through these pieces keeps us aware of the high tech, high stakes times we find ourselves in.” —NW