Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.
Bio: Grant Czuj, 35, New Haven (@grant_czuj)
Title of work: Home:8447 (2023).
Where to see it: “Welcome home, son,” curated by Michael Sherman at Nina Johnson Gallery (6315 NW 2nd Ave, Miami) until July 29.
Three words to describe it: Color, form, materiality.
What was on your mind at the time: I was thinking of those being paid by the hour to obtain and maintain a home. Thinking of those that are locked-up long enough to start referring to the property in their cells and lockers as things that are “back at the house.” Thinking of the colorful quilts at my grandmother’s and the colorful flower gardens my mother loves to grow.
An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: Identifying the material in the painting is not noticeable at a glance as the colors tend to act as camouflage. Each painting holds specific and meaningful material choices, which hold their own contexts and histories. I’ve always been interested in how a material can exist within and outside of the painting. There is the object itself, but there is also the idea of that object, which exists in the viewer’s mind, in their own ways. For me, this holds a potential for the paintings to connect to a world of people and places outside of itself.
How it reflects your practice as a whole: I’ve been interested in the context and histories of objects and materials for years now, and this painting holds those conversations for me; but here, I’ve used the boundary of the painting to hold an image as well. For the Home series of works, it is the simplified image of a house, garage, or shed, which now holds all of the materials concerning themselves within the interior and exterior of the home.
For me, this isn’t a conversation of the domestic space, rather the ideology of how societies on the whole are politically administered. Thinking of the home here is important to me as I think of class and incarceration within my own experience. Whether growing up within a working-class home, or being incarcerated within a housing unit, the home in hindsight seems more of a political site rather than one of safety or security. This painting helped start the Home series, where I concern myself with color, form, materiality, and boundary together in a biopolitical conceptual framework.