The Counting of Days
The Counting of Days
Guffogg’s series “The Counting of Days” is inspired by the count of Gregorian Calendar and
the amount of days the artist has been alive.
The numbers at the bottom first appeared when I returned from a trip to the former Soviet
Union in 1989. The Soviet regime was nearing its end as I traveled across Ukraine on a Peace
walk with 70 other Americans, meeting people and seeing their views of life and history. I
realized, firsthand, that the winners of war write the history books, be it right or wrong, But I
also began to think differently about how we keep track of time other than counting years. I
think this came about because each day of this Peace walk was like a year in terms of what each
day’s experiences were. The western world uses a yearly count called the Gregorian Calendar,
which is, as some may know, a solar dating system that was proclaimed in 1582 by Pope
Gregory XIII as a reform of the Julian calendar. Why this matters is because I was thinking about
time as history. And beyond that, how we count time and make it history. So, I started
wondering how many days had transpired from the beginning of the Gregorian calendar,
assuming there is a day one. I did the math and added the leap years and came up with the
number of days that had transpired on the day I finished a charcoal drawing. Using stencils, I
added that number at the bottom of the drawing as a time stamp. The shapes in the drawings
were an extension from the Memory series of paintings and drawings I had been working on
from 1985 to 1988. And to digress for a brief moment, the memory series were spawned by my
moving to NYC and then traveling to the Greek island of Paros. What this journey brought about
for me was an acute realization of where I was from and the memories I had accumulated and
stored away. The memories and how the brain stores them is a phenomenal thing. What I
understood was that as more memories are added, they become compressed and merge with
other memories, creating new ones that are fragments.
Counting is a repetitive act, and that need of repetition found its way into my art in the form of
leaves. I wasn’t interested in replicating a leaf. I was more interested in the generic idea of a leaf
and the shape, but they were also abstract marks.
These drawings continued for a year or two back in 1989. Other thoughts came to the forefront
taking me in a different direction with my art. In 2019 I started thinking about time again and a
new series of pastels emerged, but with the introduction of color and the shapes became freer.
This fed into my painting practice as I was wanted to explore these shapes as fleeting moments,
some transparent and fragile, others solid and morphing into other parts. It reflects the new
era of covid that quickly changed the landscape around the world. I began counting the days I
have been on this planet.