For the previous show Graham Day Guerra had at Eden Rock
(July 2012), he chose to focus on the natural beauty of the islands landscape. Conversely, the inspiration for this exhibition comes from a no less conspicuous source, but also a somewhat less sublime aspect of the island: its celebrity culture. All of the images used for the artwork in this exhibition were taken on the island by paparazzi and posted to celebrity gossip websites (TMZ, Gawker, OMG! and the like).
Graham Day Guerra selected these images from many thousands available to anyone doing a simple Google image web search. The images were then edited, printed, mounted and given a heavy coating of encaustic (an ancient art media comprised of damar resin and wax).
The artist hope is, that through this process he can take what is otherwise seen as disposable cultural artifacts (candid celebrity pics) and turn them into something more precious, art (hence the shows title, roughly translated from Baudelaire: You gave me mud and I have turned it to gold). The selected images find these clebs caught in some of their most unscripted moments of joy (Stephanie Seymour splashing in the waves), vanity (Jay Z snapping a picture of Beyonce on the beach), and awkwardness (Lindsay Lohan trying on a new swimsuit at Louis Vuitton).
These humanizing moments are what the artist has chosen to focus on and celebrate in this exhibition. To that end, He has increased the images to portrait scale and used a traditional portrait medium (encaustic) to preserve them and give them a nuanced and corporeal surface. And, although the medium partially obscures the underlying portrait, the simple human nature of each the individuals still comes through.
Graham Day Guerra spent the three first years of his carrer in New York City making paintings and collaborating with artists such as Matthew Barney, Tom Sachs, and Mel Bochner.
After having his first show at Bellwether gallery in 2000, he entered graduate school at Yale University School of Art in New Haven CT, and graduated with an MFA in painting/printmaking in 2003.
Graham, then, had his first solo show in New York at Jack the Pelican Presents and has been selected to participate in many national and international shows since that time.
His first curatorial effort, The Hedonistic Imperative, premiered at Jack the Pelican Presents in 2005 and traveled to Deborah Colton Gallery in 2006.
He was recently awarded a Wardlow residency in Melbourne, Australia, a Pratt Institute Faculty Development Grant, Frans Masereel Centrum residency in Kasterlee, Belgium, and a RISD Professional Development grant
among other awards.
Graham is currently a studio art faculty member at both Pratt Institute and Rhode Island School of Design.
He lives and maintains a studio in Brooklyn New York.