The One Picture Show: Shane Guffogg
Conversation with art dealer Adam Gross and Shane Guffogg
This is an extract from the podcast “Conversations About Art” via VC Projects to listen on Spotify
This is an insightful conversation about art, as we listen to the curator and artist explore topics of art and creativity. This also covers Guffogg’s current solo exhibition, “The One Picture Show” at GrossArt at SPACE 1028 located in East Hollywood. The dialogue explores the colossal 7-foot by 9-foot painting, “At the Still Point of the Turning World – Only Through Time is Time Conquered” and how Guffogg arrived at this massive painting and everything else along the way. The two share keynotes about other works in the exhibition.
Adam Gross and Shane Guffogg first met in 1996 when Gross was the director of the Kantor Gallery in West Hollywood. Since then, Gross has gone on to have an illustrious career in the art world as head of Contemporary Art Auctions at Butterfield & Butterfield, co-launched Pharmaka with Guffogg, Associate Director of Development at MOCA Los Angeles, Executive Director Art PlatForm–LA, Adjunct Professor Sotheby’s Art Institute, Director of The Lapis Press, before opening GrossArt at SPACE 1028. https://www.grossartla.com
Shane Guffogg is an American artist who looks through the lens of humanity at civilizations, both past, and present, and views time as threads that connect all people. His work is a visual language that is informed by the spiritualism of abstraction and the realism of the old masters. These two ideas are usually seen as separate but Guffogg fuses them seamlessly into works that transcend and become testaments to thoughts that inform us of who we are in the 21st century. https://www.shaneguffogg.com
Victoria Chapman is the founder of VC Projects podcast, “Conversations About Art”. These talks are centered around studio practice, art, and the intellect. https://www.vcprojects.art
Below are excerpts from the podcast.
Adam Gross: The title was inspired by “The Last Picture Show” right? That great film with Cybill Shepherd and I’m spacing out on all the accurate actors that were in there, but it’s just that the title I think, was more poetic for me and hearkening to the idea as opposed to there being anything specific from the film that inspired me. But, you know, the second part of that question, which is the inspiration for the show, comes from that idea of when you go into a museum, you go to a gallery and you see a big painting in it, or you see a room full of big paintings. And when an artist has kind of done it right, it looks simple. It looks like it’s always been there. It looks inevitable as an action and as an expression. But the reality is, particularly for big paintings, there’s a lot of work that goes into it. And not just the work that goes into standing in front of that blank canvas and filling it. There’s the work that goes into conceiving it. There’s the work that goes into — for some artists — as making prep sketches and then doing studies and doing that really ad nauseam until you are a master of that subject.
You know, for other artists, like Shane for example, the work that it took to get to this one big painting, this one big picture, was less about, I think, prep sketches and more about the process and really creating for himself a voice, an approach that is distinct and that is worthy of being explored. So the idea for the show ultimately comes down to how can we explore what gets us from 1991 which is some of the earliest work in the show…
Victoria Chapman (VC Projects): But I just want to say though, in the case of this One Big Picture Show, Shane didn’t say, “I’m going to make the summer blockbuster.” I just want to be clear, let’s ask Shane why he felt compelled to paint so big … and, Adam, may you please describe this big painting…
AG: 7 feet by 9 feet, it’s sort of… it’s big. But I always think about these paintings as being about as big as Shane can paint, right? Like this is not, he’s not getting on a scaffolding. He’s not building an armature around it. These are human scale but they’re extraordinary human scale. And I also think about artists like Rothko and that idea that, by painting something large enough, you can, really capture people’s attention, engage them, fully, mentally, visually, physically with the painting.
AG: It really does and to go back to the description, you know, you’re what you’re looking at is, at one point it’s this. It’s this sort of like tightly wound but perfectly smooth or calm expression and I don’t know how to else to explain it. You know, you’re looking at a series of lines that Shane has slowly and meticulously painted onto this canvas and line after line after line, spin, swirling, mix and decided upon and elevated and defined in a way that it creates something that is both incredibly chaotic but ultimately completely peaceful, you know. It’s almost like looking at the photo of the Galaxy or the photo of the Milky Way or something like that or our own Galaxy. You know, you sense the chaos and complexity in it but you sense the absolute perfection and beauty of it as well. And, and that idea of “Only Through Time is Time Conquered”, you know, there’s a circularity in that statement. This idea that time, that time defines itself. That time is it’s own limit somehow. And that seems really appropriate for this painting in particular. And you know, the fact that the predominant color is red, gives it a real presence. And then these little, sort of these light orange and yellow highlights that define the different, um, the different layers of it and the depth in it and then sort of going back to these blue thicker lines that seem to both recede into the background and emerge from some like, blue primordial haze.
Shane Guffogg: What was going through my mind is that the lines that are further back, they’re submerged in the gray, right? And so, the gray becomes an atmospheric tone. Almost like a watery, wispy thing that I painted so that it’s out of focus. And then the layers. It went from that purple to what? From a blue to a purple, to a dark red and magenta. Then to a cadmium red dark, cadmium red medium, cadmium red light, and then orange cadmium and then a yellow cadmium deep. And so as it, as the lines come closer, I was thinking that as it’s coming closer to me, my presence is what’s illuminating it.
AG: Ahh… yeah, that sense of Illumination to that sense of light. And somebody was just in here and said, “God,” you know, like, it feels like it’s perfectly lit, something that is so powerful about your work and the fact that when you’re painting these, you know, I know that you rotate them in this idea that the light source is painted from multiple perspectives, But ultimately for this one, it sounds like it’s coming from…
Shane Guffogg: From me. Which ultimately means it’s also coming from the viewer. And, but it’s also backlit as light is coming from behind in the same way that if you’re standing underneath the tree, and you’re looking up at the sky and the way that the light filters through the branches, that’s going on in there as well. So there’s two different light sources. There’s one from deep inside and then there’s one right in front of it. AG: Yeah, that supports this idea that I feel like that the background layer, I don’t know how else to talk about it, it’s both, as you said, sort of like being submerged in the sea but it’s also somehow emerging, you know, and that light source, I think really, really speaks.
Shane Guffogg: It’s also not the way that we as humans see, but the way a camera lens sees. Because if you get a camera lens that, like a long-distance, you know and you can focus on something close, everything behind it gets blurry. So again, the human eye doesn’t see that way, but the camera does.
Shane Guffogg: So I’m using tricks of Photography to emphasize the emotional experience I want the viewer to have.
AG: Well, I think that, that’s, that supports this idea of like why do you paint a painting this big because it’s to provide the viewer an opportunity to really get lost in this. To be…
Shane Guffogg: Submerged
LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE
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