MOST MAGAZINE interviews the artist
American modern abstractionist artist Shane Guffogg recently traveled to Azerbaijan to open the retrospective of his works, The Observer is the Observed in the Art Gallery of Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Museum Center in Baku, Azerbaijan. The exhibition featuring 73 paintings and 3 sculptures that span 27 years of his career traveled to Baku from The Russian Academy of Arts Museum in St. Petersburg and ran from Feb 27, 2017 to April 6, 2017.
What attracts you in abstraction the most?
Guffogg: What attracts me the most?
– the freedom to use colors. I like making marks with paint, and for me it’s a form of writing, very similar to the abstract expressionist. When I think of the surrealists and Andre Breton and automatic writing, well that is exactly what Jackson Pollack was doing. [It] was automatic writing. He was a pure surrealist. It got labeled as abstract expressionist, but I think he was very much a surrealist. There’s that part of painting history that really appealed to me. But, I’m also a great lover of Renaissance and Baroque painting, especially the Northern Baroque and Rembrandt. So I thought, how can I combine all these elements together to create a new style of painting?
Who have you sold your works to?
Guffogg: A lot of different people—But you mean famous people? Meg Ryan owns a painting, Dustin Hoffman owns a painting, Ed Harris owns a painting, John Lithgow owns a piece, French Stewart owns a piece. I’ve got a long list. It’s like your children are going out into the world. You hope they are going to be okay.
Like with Meg Ryan – she came to one of my openings, and I was surprised to see her there. I was like -Whoa, that’s Meg Ryan! She was very sweet and she came over to my house after for dinner and really loved my work. Then about six months later, she called me and told that she really wanted to purchase a painting. She asked if I could bring it. She didn’t want art handlers or strangers in her home. I took her this big painting. I brought it into her house, and she came down the stairs and she yelled, screamed with delight, she was so excited.
She got some wine, and we were sitting on the floor and looking at the painting and talking about art and life – and what it means to be an artist, and what it means to be a celebrity, and all that stuff.
I saw her about six months later, or a year later, at a party. I said, “How are you enjoying the painting?” She said, “I hope you are not mad at me- I moved it.” I said “Moved it?! It was in the perfect spot! How could you move it?” And she said, “Well, I realized I didn’t spend any time in the living room, so I never got to see the painting. So I had it moved to my bedroom. So, it’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night.”
So when I get feedback like that from people, and how much my work affects them in a positive way, it makes me feel like I am doing something right.
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