Scott Gundersen, the portraitist of wine corks
When you meet someone who makes portraits out of thousands of wine bottle corks, you can't help but ask him first of all if his family has vineyards. This is what happens when you discover Scott Gundersen 's paintings and what he answers is simply charming: "I like to share a glass of wine with my family or friends over dinner. But no, we don't have a winery or vineyards, although my father grows a vine in his garden.
Gundersen was born near Lake Michigan on the state's northern shore in a small coastal town called Ludington. He is 35 years old and a high school teacher in Grand Rapids (Michigan) where he lives with his wife and two daughters. But also with thousands and thousands of cork stoppers piled up in different corners of his house.
Yes, he studied art at university, but where did he get the idea of bringing pointillism to the world of wine? It all started in the summer of 2007," says the artist. "I was travelling in Africa and I was totally inspired by the ability of those people to overcome the lack of material resources they live with. The ingenuity and intelligence they show is marvellous: they make use of everything they have. They recycle things that most people would consider rubbish. They recycle and build tools, clothes and art out of whatever they have on hand. In the US we call it recycling, but for them it's much more than that, it's common sense. Their ingenuity was very inspiring and made me wonder what things I would normally throw away that I could use in my artwork. On the drive home over a glass of wine he made a few sketches of what a portrait made from corks might look like.
So all the corks he uses to make his paintings have been used. "At any given time you can find between 50,000 and 80,000 corks in my studio. Depending on the age of the wine, the type of wine stock or the type of cork, that's the colour left on the base of the cork. It is impressive the infinite number of reds that can be obtained. Only occasionally do I treat some corks with wine mixed with ink to achieve a darker effect. Those tones are the most difficult to achieve," explains the artist.
Gundersen says that the most difficult work he has faced was his first mural in 2009, a portrait of his wife Jeanne. It was a challenge for him as he had not yet mastered the technique. At the time he was collecting corks from friends and family and from a few bars and restaurants in Grand Rapids, but soon realised that this was not enough. Until he discovered a company in Austin (Texas) that recycles corks and reserves thousands and thousands of wine bottle stoppers for him.
The truth is that this young American artist understood how to transform the aroma, the brightness and colour, the nobility of this liquid called wine to make it imperishable not only in the memory, but also in evocative portraits that can be hung on the walls at home.
It seems that we are not the only ones who are inspired by wine to find beauty, art and culture. Vivanco we are not the only ones who are inspired by wine to find beauty, art and culture, congratulations Scott for these magnificent works!