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Shane Guffogg's At the Still Point Series on View at Leslie Sacks Fine Art in Los Angeles
Shane Guffogg, At the Still Point 34, 2010, 40 x 40 inches. Photo: Courtesy Leslie Sacks Fine Art.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Shane Guffogg’s At the Still Point series began with a late 2009 drawing, Xingu I (Private collection, Santa Monica, California). So, for more than a year now, Guffogg has been drilling straight down with a single minded focus and the results have been profound. The paintings in this show, oils on canvas ranging from about 2 x 3 to 5 x 5 feet, are “abstract” in the conventional sense of the word but their subject is real: energy made visible. The best explanation of this work is provided by the following statement from the artist.

One of the main ideas that fueled the abstract expressionist movement was the flattening of pictorial space; the denial of the Renaissance window. My recent paintings, collectively titled ‘At the Still Point,’ are not about flattening pictorial space but rather about creating it. Having the luxury of historical time to look back on abstract painting enables me to make abstraction my subject, just as a still life or person can be a subject within a pictorial space.

The movements of light - the ribbons in my paintings - are documents of my own physicality as I move the brush across the canvas. This was also a primary characteristic of the action painters, i.e. the abstract expressionists whom I’ve chosen to bring with me into the present with this element of my work. Each of my movements requires a counter movement to balance it, and this happens over and over until there is a web that is actually comprised of one continuous line.

I’ve also been inspired by Turner’s seascapes from 1835-46, Rothko’s last works on paper, Jasper Johns’ early Alphabet paintings and many Rembrandts. My work is a visual conversation with these artists in particular. Turner’s use of light, with his swirling strokes of glaze, draws the viewer into the picture plane, then backs us out to perceive the painting in depth. Johns’ Grey Alphabets shimmer like Turner’s atmospheres. Rothko’s late Brown and Grey works on paper separate light from darkness, as do Rembrandt’s paintings which often appear to be lit from within. All of this plays into how I see and what I paint.

The title of this series, ‘At the Still Point,’ is taken from a poem by T.S. Eliot entitled ‘Burnt Norton (No. 1 of Four Quartets).’ I began reading this poem a number of years ago and have returned to it over and over because it addresses my concerns about the role of art and, more specifically, the role of painting in the 21st century. As previously noted, for me this is a continuous conversation between past and present, and about creating movement out of stillness in order to make the abstract real.

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