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John Brendan Guinan is an American contemporary artist. He 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. His father, a former Catholic Priest and well known activist, author, and lecturer, J. Edward Guinan (dec. 2015), was a stalwart in the social justice movement and founder of Community for Creative Non-violence. The ethos of vocation carries on in Guinan’s artistic practice. The artist’s large scale mixed media paintings are comprised of swaths of color fields and non-traditional mediums like spray paint, glitter, and collage. His oeuvre references a broad set of themes involving artifacts from the artist’s childhood, religion, mysticism, poetry, and philosophy. Guinan’s goal is to create enveloping art that invokes personal and collective memories. 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”. The artist 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 NYC, alongside pieces by Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Yoko Ono, Mark Grotjahn, Shepard Fairey, and Urs Fischer among others. Academy Award Winning Fine Films Company is currently shooting a documentary on his story and art career called ‘Why I Paint’.
American, b. 1981, Washington, D.C.
My father was driven by a deep sense of vocation and purpose. On more than one occasion he fasted for thirty plus days in protestation to injustice. On another occasion, he was stabbed eleven times by a homeless man on the steps of the shelter he ran. He was be back at work the following week. My purpose, sense of self, and world view are very much derived from my experiences as his son. Currently, I am interested in investigating ‘long term memory’ and the way in which we rewrite the narratives to our own lives to form a sense of self. I'm also interested in understanding ‘intersectional memories’ that inform humanity’s collective consciousness. We use memory as a means to make sense of the world. Long term memory serves as a synthesizer of the good, the bad, the traumatic and so forth. We are anchored to our very own existence and purpose through memory. I see my past in flashes of color and seemingly mundane material items (wool gabardine from Catholic school, album art, sports team logos, bed sheets, skateboard stickers and so on). My work is comprised of mix media, swaths of color fields and non-traditional mediums like spray paint, glitter, and collage. My process involves channeling faded childhood memories through researching, excavating and reimagining artifacts from my past and collaging them on top of formless color fields on raw canvas. "As an artist, I have a great privilege - in that I've been afforded the time to investigate my own past, sense of self and connection to humanity. 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."