ECHO – The Political Newspaper of Azerbaijan www.ru.echo.az
O.Bulanova published February 28, 2017 (translated from the source from Azeri/Russian to English)
The Museum Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Baku, Azerbaijan Republic opened an exhibition of American artist, Shane Guffogg.
Organized by several organizations: the International Art Agency Marika Parsadanelli, Parisian gallery Carpentier Art, Culture, and Tourism Ministry of Azerbaijan, the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, non-governmental organization Arts Council Azerbaijan, and directly the Museum Center.
Guffogg defines art as an ongoing conversation for generations. “The purpose of my work – the artist says – is to build a visual dialogue between the arts and all the people who would have no boundaries, no time or territory. This international exhibition is a step toward that goal. ”
Shane Guffogg was born in Los Angeles in 1962, where he also received his art education at the California Institute of the Arts. According to him, he began to paint as soon as he could hold a pencil. “It inspired a sense of magic when something appears out of nowhere”. Painting for him – a form of alchemy, the mystery which makes the return to work time and time again.
From 1989 to 1995 Guffogg worked with Edward Ruscha – American artists belonging to the movement of pop art, the famous creator of “text painting”, one of the main heroes of the Los Angeles art scene.
In an interview with The Muse Diaries artist, once he admitted that Ruscha always amazes his own creative visual inventions, which allow you to see the world around in a different way. Among the other artists who somehow influenced the formation of his as an abstract artist, Guffogg calls Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Monet, Mark Rothko and Gerhard Richter. But initially impressed by the Guffogg produced works by Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci. Meeting with artists XVI-XVII centuries. Largely predetermined the further career of the American, and still, it uses the popular five centuries ago, the technique of glaze in his works (glizali).
This is a very complex and time-consuming appliance: layer after layer is applied to the canvas translucent paint, eventually creating the effect of volume, some literally painting surface glow. In each work – up to eighty layers!
The artist calls his art wordless poetry, poems without words, and said that he wanted to combine abstraction and realism in painting. His paintings are full of very deep symbolism. They make the viewer stop and wonder, to think about something. They seemed to send the viewer right between his known world and the unknown, between what we think we know it is alleged, by the fact that we actually know.
In short, his paintings have everything and nothing, they present a mixture of conscious and subconscious – like twisting ropes. “If I really think about someone or place of the event, – says Guffogg – it is intertwined with emotions and possibly color. Memory – is the starting point for a painting, but as the painting progresses, the surface goes somewhere different. The characters that I do – it is the result of dance, originating in my subconscious mind, my body and my conscious observations of this moment. ”
Many years ago, the artist’s question looked like our thoughts before language appeared. He threw the pieces of tape and secured them as they landed. Then came the first “band” of the picture, as he calls them. Guffogg then began to think about memory as a discourse between physical and mental. He wanted to do figurative paintings but did not want to tell stories about it. Corporeality of the artist was to expand its presence in the present moment, allowing work to be figurative in its purest form.
In many of his works – the endless interwoven is not abstract but is a figurative element. The tape in the works of Guffogg – is a symbol of movement and time, and at the same time – a symbol now. “I think – Guffogg said – that in our time the world is happening too fast, and I need something to remain unchanged. I need moments of constancy. And these paintings capture a moment that will never happen again, that it does not vanish instantly.
At the same time the line – is a continuation of my physiology. As an example, writing: handwriting can say something about a person’s character. I like to think that the line – the result of the initial movement of our subconscious: how when you’re talking on the phone and something mindlessly scribbles on paper. I use these voluntary movements to create paintings. When I start to paint, I make a certain label. Then I spend about six months, wondering how to combine them into a picture. They become the subject of my study. And then I try to look at them through the window of the Renaissance. ”
As can be seen from this long quotation, Guffogg – a man with a very rich spiritual world, able to think about lofty matters, wishing to convey to the audience their experiences, and to do so indirectly, not saying anything right in the forehead. It leaves the viewer to think of himself before subtle impulses of his soul, turn your subconscious and find in each picture something close to him alone. This Guffogg does not aim to make political statements or answer any questions.
Five years ago, he worked on a series of paintings, which were dedicated to the early work of one Leonardo da Vinci – Ginevra de ‘Benci. He had long considered this work, studied the light on her face, hairline, looked – and, as he told in an interview, “My hand moved by itself. I felt like talking to a painting by Leonardo. Then I realized that the person Ginevra faint stretched forward; if the prospect of the picture is distorted, exaggerated. And I realized that Leonardo did it on purpose. He was a master; in many respects, this picture – the forerunner of Cubism. He predicted the appearance of the computer screen, in which we look at and go deeper. ”
To better understand the Renaissance, Guffogg read a lot of books on this period, including the book, which was read by Leonardo and Michelangelo: “The Book of Love.” This work was dedicated to reflection on the spiritual love – the artists of the Renaissance inspired the idea of the love of the spirit. Interestingly, many of the paintings the artist wrote – by his own admission, – as if being on the viewer’s position.
He tried to watch as a viewer of his own unconscious, trying to find a common language, immersed in its own memory and from there realize some images that are seen, perhaps very young. These were the “excavation” of memory.
“When I turned to fix the flash memory, – says Guffogg – a new meaning was born, a new language: both abstract and realistic. All my paintings are elements of light and air. I think of light as a subject that is necessary to depict; on each picture, you can see where the imaginary light source. ”
This point is also common with paintings of the Renaissance. For instance, there is Rembrandt, where his paintings are all filled with light, but this particular light source the viewer does not see, however, feels very clearly.
“Many people think this way: if you have an idea that you are a talented illustrator and this is art, – says the artist. – I think it’s an illustration. Art is the idea, to illustrate it is not required. Here I look at the paintings, I can not know whether he was rich or poor, whether he believed in God. I never know what he was thinking, what he was feeling. Of course, I read about it, but it’s not necessary. The work itself speaks for itself. Art transcends time, it is more time out of politics and economics. And this is one reason why art is so important. Beauty is – this is something that goes beyond our expectations. Beauty is awareness of the moment, the moment of truth. ”
The exhibition at the Museum Center is divided into two parts. The first presents a picture of the early period of the artist who painted between 1988 and 2008. In the second part – the pieces are that Guffogg dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. Total exhibition the artist presents 73 paintings and sculptures. The exhibition will run until 6 April. The exhibition will include a variety of educational and cultural activities.