John Brendan Guinan's large scale mixed media paintings incorporate swaths of color fields and sculptural reliefs comprised of non-traditional materials ranging from tar, sand, moss, flowers, found rocks, and glitter to more classical mediums. His oeuvre references a broad set of themes involving religious sacraments, mysticism, the cosmos, poetry, philosophy, and faded childhood memories. Guinan utilizes an unorthodox set of processes in his studio practice including crude block printing, etching, squeegee, pouring, as well as found object and hand painting. The artist's goal is to create sublime and enveloping art that emotionally and spiritually disrupts viewers. In the words of color field artist Barnett Newman, "Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, or "life," we are making [them] out of ourselves, out of our own feelings." Guinan has been called an "artist priest" and a "conduit for the transcendent". In his own words, "Artists are the agents of the heavens. Our job is to do the bidding of the immaterial". Guinan has exhibited in solos and group shows in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Miami at Art Basel. His work has been auctioned off at Sotheby's in New York. Academy Award Winning Fine Films Company is currently shooting a documentary on his story and art career.
John Brendan Guinan, contemporary mixed media artist, was born at home in the Logan Circle neighborhood of inner city Washington, D.C. above the homeless shelter and soup kitchen founded and run by his parents. Mother Teresa served the first bowl of soup at the kitchen's opening. John's father and hero, former Catholic priest, activist and author, John Edward Guinan "Ed" passed away in December of 2014. The Washington Post memorialized Ed by saying, “Throughout his life, [Guinan] earned a place on the Catholic left defined by the pacifism of Dorothy Day, the civil disobedience of Daniel and Philip Berrigan and the faith-driven calls of former Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver to replace peace through strength with strength through peace".
Guinan's solo exhibition, The Art of Mourning, which debuted in August of 2015 at the Artery Gallery in New York, was comprised of large scale mixed media pieces grieving his father’s passing. Each piece was painted while his father was sick, in hospice or recently passed. In a recent article on NPR, Guinan is quoted as saying, "My hands, brushes, paint, and pallet knives served as conduits for my emotions: joy, despair, gratitude, transformation, grace and other undefinable inklings of subconscious. Through great pain this art came out of me. It simply had to".
In 2016, Guinan exhibited at Art Basel Miami's Satellite fair in 2016 curated by Black Paper based out of Los Angeles. The following year, on Trump's inauguration day, he hosted what was touted as "The art of reconciliation - a sanctuary on inauguration day" in which anarchists, conservatives and liberals engaged in immersive installations centered around reconciliation and healing. Months later he engaged in controversial guerrilla performances at the White House and US Capitol in a pair of performances titled "The bondage of self". In February of 2017, Guinan's painting, "Tenleytown Zebra Map', was auctioned off at Sotheby's in NYC, alongside pieces by Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Mark Grotjahn, Urs Fischer, Jorge Pardo, Yoko Ono and Shepard Fairey among others. In the spring of 2017, Guinan participated in a group exhibition at De Re Gallery in Los Angeles alongside several top emerging and mid career artists. The Academy Award winning Fine Films Company, creators of HBO’s “Life According To Sam”, “War Dance” and “Inocente,” are currently shooting a documentary on his story and art career.
American, b. 1981, Washington, D.C.
Prior to my birth, as a young Priest, my father was stabbed eleven times by a homeless man at the shelter he ran. Within a week he was back at work. The ethos of reckless abandon for one's vocation in many ways translates to my artistic practice. My conviction that art can invoke healing and epiphany, is surely a product of being my father's son. Channeling faded childhood memories, connecting with remnants of my own lost innocence, and grappling with my connection to the greater universe are core components of my intuitive process. I integrate children's craft materials, organic objects, religious artifacts, symbols and classical art mediums into my work. Conceptually, I make allusions to both the micro; through the intimacy of my improvisational gestures and the use of nostalgic objects; and the macro - through composing emotive color fields and sculptural reliefs that hint at the cosmos, dimensional portals, and mysticism. "As an artist, I have a great privilege - in that I've been afforded the time to investigate my own spirituality. Through becoming intimate with myself and expressing this intimacy onto canvas - I hope that my art can serve as mirror for viewers to engage with their own truths. Ideally, my work, as Jackson Pollack says - confronts you."