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The Art of Shane Guffogg

Oct 27, 2015 10:57AM ● By Brandi Barnett

Reading Between the Brush Strokes

November 2015
By Fache Desrochers

The time: the 1960s. The place: the foothill community of Lindsay, Calif. The story: something was blooming in this small farming town that had nothing to do with agriculture. A young artist’s eyes were working relentlessly, taking in everything under the dusty sky that sloped wide to meet the imposing rise of the Sierras. Shane Guffogg had finished kindergarten. And while many children his age were still focused on learning to read, write and tie their shoes, Guffogg could already hear the beat of his own drum loud and clear, calling him down the path that he would walk for the rest of his life.
“When I was a little kid, I would go to the Hallmark store with my mom, and the paints there fascinated me,” recalls Guffogg. “I would look at a tube and smell it and dab a little bit on my fingers and wonder how artists could take this substance and make it into a work of art. I thought it was like alchemy, like magic. So I always wanted to be a magician in that regard.”
Guffogg attended elementary school in Lindsay, then high school in Strathmore. But he had barely set foot into first grade before his teacher took note of his intense natural ability and stridently unique perspective. “My teacher took my drawings to the principal’s office because they wanted to know who was helping me. And when I said no one, they called my parents to confirm, and they said, ‘No, he just sits and draws all day.’ So I’ve been the class artist ever since.”
Not one to deny destiny, Guffogg was on a plane to London the day after he graduated high school. His single goal was to go to the resplendent museums, stand in front of history’s greatest paintings and see what they were like in person. “I very quickly stumbled into the National Gallery in London, and I came upon Rembrandt’s penultimate self portrait. And as I stood there I could see the brush strokes, I could see which colors he used, and it was almost as if the information was being downloaded into my brain,” says Guffogg. “A month later, I found myself in Milan, standing in front of da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper,’ and that was the day that it sank in entirely what my destiny was.”
Upon his return stateside, Guffogg enrolled in Porterville College and began painting intensely on his own, supplementing his self-education with curriculum that felt relevant to the metaphysical foundation he was trying to develop for his art. “Art history seemed particularly important for me to learn, because it has been a dialogue going on for generations, and I wanted to know what that conversation was,” says Guffogg. “I had realized by then that all the arts are a form of communication. So the question became for me, ‘What is it that I want to say?’”
Guffogg took that question with him to Cal Arts in Valencia for graduate school, where he excelled so distinctly that he was given the opportunity to travel to New York City for a semester to work in an art field of his choice. Guffogg continued his trajectory of absorbing every horizon he could, while simultaneously honing in on his philosophy and technique as an artist. “I started off painting realisticallyand figuratively, but then I moved into a more abstract expressionist space because I decided that I didn’t want to tell literal stories anymore,” explains Guffogg. “I wanted to write a wordless poem. I wanted to bypass the intellect and get to the soul of the matter.”
Shane now has his own studio in Los Angeles where he creates works in oil, pastel, watercolor and glass; he displays them in acclaimed galleries such as the Leslie Sacks Fine Art Gallery in Brentwood. His work has also been at the Bert Green Fine Art Gallery in Chicago, along with shows in Naples, Bologna and Venice, while a huge collection of nearly three decades of Guffogg’s work is currently on exhibit at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg.
But as global as Guffogg’s influence has become, his roots remain incredibly relevant to him – so much that he will be returning to exhibit a selection of paintings in his hometown of Lindsay. The exhibit will hang during the week of Nov. 14, cumulating in a public reception on Nov. 21, from 5-7 pm at the Lindsay Museum and Gallery.
“I have always wanted to make work that was as relevant to someone in Lindsey or Strathmore as it would be to someone anywhere else in the world,” muses Guffogg. And with his unflinching self-reflection, devotion to the process and uncanny talent, it seems that not only has Guffogg always done this, but that he always will. • Find him on Facebook
Lindsay Museum and Gallery • 165 N. Gale Hill Ave, Lindsay
Gallery show dates: Nov. 14-21
Reception Nov. 21 5-7pm