“I make images of things that don’t really exist.”
The American abstract artist Shane Guffogg considers himself to be a figurative painter.
As the 53 year old Guffogg explained to the Haute Street Muse’s Lana Carlson “Abstraction is my subject matter, so I think that makes me a realist…Many years ago, I began wondering what our thoughts look like before language is attached. That led me to literally begin throwing pieces of ribbons and documenting how they landed. It was a play on chance that gave a nod to both Duchamp and the abstract expressionist painters. I then began thinking about memory as the discourse between the physical and mental, the mind and body. I wanted to make figurative paintings but didn't want to tell stories, so my own physicality of mark making became an extension of my presence at that moment, thus making the work figurative in a pure way.”
Guffogg was 17 when he decided to become an artist.
As a child he as an avid drawer “in first grade my teacher plucked me out of the group as the kid who could draw, and the label has been with me ever since.” After completing high school Guffogg escaped from the parental exotic bird farm in the Steinbeck country of Central California to Europe. His meeting up with Rembrandt’s second to last self-portrait at London’s National Gallery saw the seed sown, a shortly later confrontation with Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan and the determination was confirmed.
After obtaining his Bachelor of Fine Arts from The California Institute of the Arts Guffogg worked as a studio assistant for the pop artist Ed Ruscha for six years. About whom he has said “Ruscha, who is a friend, always amazes me with his creative visual inventions, making me see the world around me with fresh eyes.”
Today all these references influence Guffogg’s work from “The furrows that stretch from one side of a field to the other make amazing patterns as you drive down the back country roads” of his childhood to “the flying colors of the birds that would swirl around my head when [as a child] I would go into the pens to feed and water them also played a part in the movement in my work.”
“The marks I make are the result of a dance that is taking place between my subconscious, my physicality and my conscious observation of that moment,” he says.
It is a point Guffogg reiterates in his artist’s statement “As an artist, my job is to revel not what I think I know or even what I know I know, but what exists in the space between, which is for lack of a better use of language, a moment of being. Is there such a thing? I think so, I hope so. Descartes said it so eloquently, ‘I think therefore I am.’”
His exhibition Shane Guffogg: New Paintings is currently on show at Chicago’s Bert Green Fine Art until the 22 of August. On the 8th of August a retrospective of Guffogg’s work will be held at The Russian Academy of Fine Arts Museum in St Petersburg which will remain of show until the 27th of September.