SHANE GUFFOGG INTERVIEW WITH “STRELA”(Russian Newspaper)
• How you came to the idea of the exhibition in St. Petersburg?
• What did you show at your exhibition?
• What inspires your daily work with your paintings?
• Who has influenced on your works?
• How do you like the St Petersburg? Will be more paintings inspired by the city?
Answers to the Questions Asked:
1) Growing up in the United States during the cold war era, Russia or at that time the USSR, was the sworn enemy, according to our government. So the USSR was always talked about and of course the talk was shrouded with mystery. I learned on my trip in 1989 to the USSR that the Soviet people were told almost word for word the same things, fear driven stories, about Americans. Going to the USSR and meeting people, staying in people's homes, talking, sharing meals, etc. I discovered that we are all the same. Take away the myths and propaganda, we all want similar things in life and to be happy and feel safe. Russian culture is vast, and has had an amazing and lasting impact on the west. The first abstract paintings were made by Kandinsky which changed the course of art. The Suprematist movement of Malevich and his idea that it would lead to the "supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts" is an idea that I adhere to with my own work. I often think of my paintings as wordless poems, Malevich believed that there were delicate links between words or signs and the objects they denoted, and from this he saw the possibilities for a totally abstract art. And just as the poets and literary critics were interested in what constituted literature, Malevich was intrigued by the search for art's barest essentials, which comes close to a type of mysticism. I think great art allows us to see and experience our world differently, and when that happens, we are changed, which then effects change on the world. I think of art as an ongoing conversation that is free of the restrictions of time. For example, Rembrandt was conversing with Titian and Rapheal, Van Gogh and Chaim Soutine were conversing with Rembrandt's late paintings, which were about using the paint not as a way of creating an illusion, but the thick paint becoming a visual metaphor for the physical world. This expression through paint freed up Van Gogh which influenced the Fauves and the Blu Riders, which Kandinsky was a part of. The Russian/ American Abstract artist Rothko was conversing with William Turner and the paintings of Malevich. When one thinks of Rothko's rectangular bands of color, they are directly influenced by and an extension of Malevich's early abstract paintings. Art, or I should say the Arts, is the unifying fabric of humanity. And of course the Russian composers............their is a deep feeling or sense of history in their music. I often listen to Stravinsky while painting. His music dismantled the melodic sounds of the Romantic period and was put back together in a new way that reflected the shift of culture and ideas of the industrial revolution and foretold of the information age. My work is informed by all of this.
2) I have always felt my work would find a global audience. I never wanted to be known as a Los Angeles artist, or California artist or even an American artist – just as an artist. And from the beginning I wanted to make art that would be a visual conversation with all of art through out time and continents, to create what was potentially a visual language that could be understood or felt by all cultures. So when Patrick Carpentier asked if I would be interested in having an exhibition if Russia, I of course said yes. How great would it be for me to have the opportunity to share my work with the people that live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
3) I hope the people that see this exhibition have the chance to see my work and have the emotional experience that I do when I make the work. Often when I am working, memories of times and places are pulled up as a brush stroke creates a shape or the way that I am painting light and the shadows that I sometimes paint in the works. All of my work starts with a subconscious moment, a gesture or mark on the canvas. I respond to that moment with more marks to balance the image. I never make sketches for paintings, they are always direct. Then I begin to define those markings, that subconscious moment by using a glazing process that is similar to the old masters techniques. But I paint 70, 80 or more layers of thin translucent layers, with each layer going deeper into my thoughts, my memories, where language doesn't exists. When I am finished, the top layers of the painting are the deepest part of my memories, becoming an excavation of thoughts. In the end the paintings are a conversation between my subconscious and consciousness.