Artistic License: Guggi - The Gloss Magazine

Artistic License: Guggi

In his new exhibition at Kerlin Gallery, Guggi’s signature motifs of boldly simplified utilitarian objects appear on large-scale photographs documenting the home of his late father, Robbie …

‘Robertstown,’ by Guggi

How and where do you work?

My previous studio was a separate building on the grounds of the family home. I always wanted to live under the same roof as my work, so that I could walk in at any time without putting my coat and boots on to cross the garden on a cold night. Now, having the studio as a room in the house means I can go in even in the early hours of the morning, hail, rain or snow – you can learn huge amounts by going in, even if just for a few minutes for a quick look. In those moments you can see what the painting needs in order to win it.

The way I make a painting is that I generally only know how I want to start it, and then the painting seems to take over and direct me to what it needs. I don’t work from photographs or sketches. My instinct guides me.

My work has evolved from one piece to the next over many hundreds of paintings, drawings and sculptures.

‘Robbie and me 3,’ by Guggi

Your latest exhibition “Them” has been described as your most autobiographical, has that made it more difficult to complete? 

No, it felt like the easiest thing I have ever done. While it may be more overtly autobiographical to the viewer, I think every piece of work can only be autobiographical. Though my parents were very present when making this work, it also triggered memories from childhood.

‘Broken 1d,’ by Guggi

What was the starting point for “Them”?  

The starting point of this exhibition was just to make the next painting I wanted to make, as is the case with all of my exhibitions.

That said, for one series of work (“Robbie and me”) I was interested in painting on the photographs, taken on my father’s property (in Robertstown), of some of what my dad had left behind, perhaps in some way trying to make sense of it. Having always been interested in what time does to surfaces, I saw a real beauty in the erosion and corrosion, and what exposure had done to the vast collection of cars, trucks, vans, and the rest of the stuff my dad collected. It wasn’t until I was about halfway through working on these images that I realised it was a kind of collaboration with my dad.

‘Robbie and me 4,’ by Guggi

Your work has used household objects, repetition and extraction to reflect on experiences – do you have a preference for subject matter or medium?

While my work focuses on common objects of utility – objects whose beauty and awkwardness we tend to miss despite seeing them dozens of times a day – they tend to be the foreground for my paintings, sometimes just a broken line occupying about one per cent of the area. The other 99 per cent of what is happening, however, is just as important, as that is what allows me to do the line.

‘Robbie and me 6,’ by Guggi

Is there an artwork within “Them” that resonates most with you?

While they all resonate with me, each in its own way, such as the “Robbie and me” series, for the piece called “For Winnie” – as I was painting it, I felt my mum very present.

Need to know: Guggi’s exhibition “Them” is on at Kerlin Gallery until February 24, Anne’s Lane, Dublin 2; To find out more about Guggi visit @guggi_artist


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