John Cederquist and the Art of Painting with Wood

The masterful trompe l’oeil inlay work of John Cederquist is unrivaled in its visual and conceptual complexity. Cederquist creates sculptural and functional forms that blur the boundaries between reality and illusion. Collapsing perspective through a challenging process that entails translating objects into two-dimensions, his works self-reflect on the significance of furniture, craftsmanship, pop culture and art.

Born in Altadena, California, Cederquist studied art and craft at California State University at Long Beach and went on to teach design at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo in 1976. Since the late 1970s, Cederquist has explored the relationship between perspective drawings and fully constructed finished objects. As Cederquist became conscious of the increasing role of the image in art and society, he began to explore the two-dimensional image as a starting point for his approach to furniture.  His bewildering and beguiling works of depth deception assert the philosophical potential of furniture as art forms.

Among the vast inspirations that drive Cederquist in his practice, his passions for historic stylistic periods, Magritte and surrealism, Japanese wood block prints and mid-twentieth century classic cartoons have filtered through his work over the years. The unexpected pairing of cartoons and block prints is a natural connection to Cederquist, who views them as essentially the same application of perspective to depict very different imagery.

Cederquist is acclaimed for his deep appreciation of the interactive forms of furniture and for wholeheartedly focusing on and working within the limitations of functional art. Yet in more recent years, he has opened up to the possibilities of creating wall sculpture. These wall pieces raise the question of how the viewer engages with various art forms, including both painting and studio furniture.

As a whole, the imprint of our increasingly superficial and image-saturated world is extremely relevant to Cederquist’s work. Particularly as channels of new media technology proliferate at our fingertips and people experience the world through a tidal wave of snapshots via text and Instagram, our lens is shifting. Our understanding of reality moves closer towards the virtual and new dimensions of perception are becoming the norm.

This exhibition was on display at the Craft in America Center, February 27, 2016 – April 23, 2016.

Photos by Madison Metro