(visual symphonic poems)
Curated by VC Projects and Shane Guffogg
|hree large oil paintings relative to transcendental consciousness|
|Shane Guffogg is no stranger to metaphysical realms. Recently, we were challenged by Los Angeles-based pianist, Anthony Cardella’s November 12th music program to curate an exhibition influenced by pianist, and composer Franz Liszt. This wasn’t so difficult as both artists and composers share some common ideologies. Liszt coming from the Romantic era has been noted for creating life-changing experimental compositions. Tony performed works from two of three suites, “Années de pèlerinage (1837-54; Years of Pilgrimage) “First Year, Switzerland – Obermann’s Valley”, and “Orage”(storm). The title, Années de pèlerinage comes from Goethe’s famous novel of self-realization, “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.” These works were in response to Liszt’s tour of Italy and Switzerland reflecting on the landscape. What he produced was harmonic experimentation. The wild “Orage” is Liszt’s portrayal of a storm he experienced, using extensive and complex sounds translating the elements in magnitude. The third piece Tony will perform is “Apres une lecture du Dante – Fantasia quasi sonata, S161/7” inspired by Dante Alighieri’s, The Divine Comedy. Liszt was introduced to one of the greatest epic poems in Western literature during the 1830s. These compositions were of new musical form and Liszt seemed to be pursuing something much more than musical melodies but rather inquiries related to the soul.|
Other notable genres Liszt composed were “Transcendental Etudes” of which there were twelve. These came about when Listz was fifteen years old. Later he went back into these to explore more thematic ideas and revise the stretches of intervals to create compositions that declare a profound universal order. Then there were his “Symphonic Poems” which are known to be more orchestral “to display the traditional logic of symphonic thought.”
I feel this is where Shane Guffogg’s paintings come in. Guffogg’s early 1994-96, “Patience in the Blue”, pertains to ideas based on spiritual aspirations. These paintings, he did many, were transcendental-in-their own right. Guffogg shifted from representative scenes in his late 20s, to more of an abstract subject matter that was about the inner world of thoughts and emotions and what was deep inside the flesh. Guffogg was seeking a more complex understanding of the soul. This inquiry shift pushed the artist to go outside the bounds of purely figurative or abstract art theory. Instead, he created his own transcendental compositions such as 1998, “A Sainted Hunger.” These meticulously organized paintings were again a shift from the previous aura-infused apparitions. These were new symphonic poems Guffogg calls “pattern paintings.” And like any orchestral work, regardless of medium, these paintings were created through 70 – 100 layers of translucent oil paint. One brush stroke would not do. What these layers of paint capture are the illusion of within.
Overall, I feel these paintings are about a monastic communion as opposed to making a statement about something. Previously, and during his time at Cal Arts, Guffogg completed a semester of art-making in New York City. The artist created his “Memory” paintings – a ghostly view of memories not seen in front of him but rather painted from memories in his mind that were condensed moments from his youth and were comforted by. But Guffogg couldn’t safely go forward without looking back at work from the past – and although the “memory paintings” had to happen, these “pattern paintings” came from a whole different region. However, both bodies of work are relative. They are the focus of the conscious and the subconscious being met by systematic rituals Guffogg has explored through paint. These paintings were made from his own “symphonic poetry”. It may not be a surprise that Guffogg has the gift of Synesthesia when one sense comes through another.
The artist miraculously hears music through the colors he sees. Works like 2001, “Crossings” are wonderful examples of color and harmony flowing together to make a new visual language informed by his unconscious. In this case “Crossings” multiple shades of blue lay on top of blues in thin translucent layers, with the purple patterning cascading across the surface, reading almost like ancient cuneiform. The painting seems to be of a new language from the past yet honoring the present, and it radiates from our inner self. What Guffogg did here is he created yet another genre of visual poetry and sound, much like Liszt accomplished with his musical compositions. Both artists and composers share an interest to go within and explore elements that can’t be expressed in any other medium. They both own their own conscious effort to instill a legacy in music and painting that is transcendent and symphonic.
Victoria Chapman, Curator
|Shane Guffogg is an American artist that looks through the lens of humanity at civilizations both past and present and views time as a thread that connects 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 who we are in the 21st century. His artwork consists of oil paintings, mixed-media works on paper, pastels, and Murano glass sculptures. Guffogg’s artwork can be found in numerous private and public collections and museums in Europe and the USA. Some notably the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, New York, Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City, The Imperial Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia, The Gallery at the Museum Center, Baku, Azerbaijan, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, University of Pennsylvania, Frederick R. Wiseman Art Foundation, Los Angeles.|
El NIDO means “the nest” in Spanish, located at 1028 1/2 N. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029.
El NIDO is set inside an art compound recently dubbed Western Avenue Collective by its residents. The art space opened in 2021 and makes its mission to share visual, and performing arts, including the written word, and is presented by VC Projects. The Blue Room is a supportive space inside the compound adjacent to El NIDO. Both spaces are intimate and set off the beaten path on N. Western Avenue within the boundaries of East Hollywood (Route 66/Santa Monica Blvd). This historical enclave consists of twenty-two artist studios dating from 1924. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org