Opening Reception: February 18, 2023 from 12 – 4 pm
SHANE GUFFOGG: XINGU
Large to medium scale works on paper and found art installation
Curated by Victoria Chapman
Music performance by Anthony Cardella, Pianist at 2 pm
Leos Janacek: In The Mists , Maurice Ravel: Miroirs, Maurice Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit Alexander Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in G-Sharp Minor (Sonata-Fantasy) and Prokofiev: Toccata
The Blue Room at El NIDO, 1028 N. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, 90029
www.vcprojects.art | email@example.com
In 2023, Shane Guffogg returns to the Xingu series, consisting of medium to large-scale works on paper. The artist began this project in 2009. They began on the studio floor using a bottle of Sumi ink and a roll of Strathmore paper. Additional marks were added with soft white paste charcoal. This serie, then and now, is about the connection of everything. For the 2023 exhibition on Western Avenue, the series, Xingu, was created in his Central California studio, returning to the nature of all things in existence and expiration.
“I like to think of invisible threads around us, connecting everything, almost like a spider’s web. If you touch one part of the web, the spider knows because it is connected. It is easy to forget or lose the idea of being inner connected due to all the white noise, which social media has amplified to a deafening level!”
The birth of Xingu came about during the same weekend the artist started his famous Still Point series. In his own words Guffogg describes the still points as “repetition of a line that circles in, on itself, over and over, until deep layers are formed, hovering in the finite space between chaos and order.” With the Xingu series, the opposite approach was taken,
“The paper was laid flat on my studio floor, and with quick, gestural brush strokes, the random application of ink was applied, leaving some areas of the paper clear, as if there was a tear in the black ink that allows us to see through to the white paper, making the paper both a subject and object. Once dry, I would pin the paper to the wall and draw lines in and around the black with a piece of white chalk. As the white chalk crossed over the empty areas, what was sitting on the surface of the paper disappeared into the white. These works are about the duality of all things, just like chaos and order, but from a different approach. The title, Xingu, is the name of a river in Brazil that feeds into the Amazon river. I think of where the two rivers merge, a moment of two becoming one, chaos and order, space and time.”
But that’s not all the exhibition brings about; it also shares aspects of the artist’s studio in Central California. The 2023 Xingu series was created amongst an abundance of nature, sprawling landscapes filled with farmland, trees, and mountains. This factor is key in acknowledgment and respect to the observation of growth and decay. Spinoza, the 17th-century Dutch philosopher, believed in the inherent nature of all things and that there is an interwoven connection that flows between all beings and all existence — there is no dead end. “In nature, there is nothing contingent; all things have been caused by the necessity of the divine nature to exist and produce an effect in a certain way.”
For this art installation, Guffogg has brought a branch from the top of a Eucalyptus tree that was struck by lighting and snapped off in the latest California storm. This object represents Guffogg’s ongoing observations of the landscape around him, consisting of sprawling farmland. The area produces the majority of the country’s food source due to the rich soil, as the land was once a lake bed used by earlier settlers. What the artist observes during the day and night is growth and decay within the order of what is inherent and majestic. These daily observations, which come and go with the seasons (which range from the high of 30 degrees in winter to 110 degrees in summer), have their share of destruction and renewal.
When I asked Guffogg about the title, he said, “The first time I used the word Xingu was for a 7 x 7 foot painting I made in Los Angeles. The works on paper were started at my ranch studio in 2009. I think being more in nature or around orchards of trees affects me because when I see a tree,I also see the sky behind it through the branches, similar to looking beyond the black surface into the white void of the paper.”
But how did Guffogg come across the word Xingu? As much as the exhibition is about time and space, I believe the works and the tree branch give the viewer a sense of nature’s cycle of life and death; where does the title come from? And is the artist a source of time and space? How does the artist become the observer who is observed? I ask Guffogg if he is time and space. Guffogg kindly responds with:
“Ah, now we have come full circle where the beginning is the end, and the end is? The ideas or images of future paintings come to me in dreams or just walking, especially in nature. But they don’t come as a complete picture. They are more sensorial. This morning, I was walking along a field of corn, and the morning sun was shining through the leaves of a lone stalk of corn, changing the dark green to yellow-green. That made me think about light in general and how it can pass through some things, changing their colors. Then I think about my work and how I capture this moment in paint. By the time I am back in my studio, that moment is now a memory, but I can sensorial relive it, which sets up the moment to begin painting.”
Guffogg goes on to re-tell how the name came about. Back in the early 90s, he was getting some slack from Paul Ruscha about titling his work “Untitled and assigning them numbers.” One day while having lunch with Paul and Pat Poncy, who worked for Ed Ruscha, the subject was broached again. Pat was reading a book of short stories by Edith Wharton, and the name Xingu was the title of one of the stories. Pat wrote down a list of words from the Wharton book which they then discussed and began to connect titles to paintings. Guffogg later researched the word and found it to be small rivers that meet to create the Amazon, and it was the perfect title for the large 7 x 7-foot painting he created. A radar screen initially inspired the patterns of the painting he found in a magazine. As with most of the artist’s work, the duality of chance and order plays a key role, which he feels is an endless opportunity to observe and explore in multiple creative aspects.
Xingu the exhibition is a refreshing look at Guffogg’s work in 2023, a California-based, international artist who has had a successful domestic and international career with solo exhibitions in USA and Europe. Guffogg continually stays on cue to observe the world around him, never following trends but simply staying on his chosen course. He looks out onto the world that struggles with climate change, war, politics, identity, and the fragility of human existence. His observations are sincere, sharing the visual expression of the basic needs for human and emotional survival, regardless of race, culture, language, or religion. His mission has always been to create a visual language that is comprehensible to all collectives and communities of the world. Often he asks, “What do our thoughts look like before words are attached?” Partially, his creative language has long been inspired by the spirituality of abstraction. He looks deeply into the lens of humanity, and what we think and the experiences that are felt and held close to heart. – 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.
|Piano performance by Anthony Cardella within the exhibition space of The Blue Room|
Music program: Leos Janacek: In The Mists , Maurice Ravel: Miroirs, Maurice Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit Alexander Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in G-Sharp Minor (Sonata-Fantasy) and Prokofiev: Toccata
|Anthony Cardella is a dynamic and compelling, active performer who has performed in esteemed concert halls across the United States and Europe, and has won regional and national performance competitions in the United States. A Wisconsin native, Anthony moved to Los Angeles three years ago after completing his undergraduate studies at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and has been performing, teaching, and collaborating in the Los Angeles area while pursuing further studies at the Thornton School of Music. Anthony is an award-winning performer who has been praised for his virtuosity, exceptionally delicate touch, and colorful playing that connects with his audiences on an emotional level. Anthony is known for assembling programs that showcase the full extent of his technical abilities and vulnerability at the piano in tandem, while actively seeking out music written by living composers to program and showcase in addition to standard Classical repertoire.|
Anthony holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Lawrence University and Conservatory of Music with honors, a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, and is a Doctoral candidate at USC, teaching at the collegiate level while also doing research in musicology and pedagogy.