John Brendan Guinan is an American contemporary multi-disciplinary 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 untrained artist's first show was a solo in New York at Artery Gallery in honor of his father, titled "The Art of Mourning". His oeuvre is inspired by a lifelong bout with depersonalization/derealization disorder, urban decay, as well as elements of his Catholic upbringing. His performances are ritualistic in nature and reference Judeo-Christian iconography and sacraments. In the words of 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.
As a young Catholic priest, my father was stabbed eleven times on the steps of the homeless shelter that he ran in Washington DC. I was born and raised in the city and from a young age was exposed to urban blight and homelessness. My work is influenced by urban decay, the dissociative disorder - depersonalization/derealization, as well elements of my Catholic upbringing. Since I was a boy, I've felt as if my limbs and head were disconnected from my body. My eyes function as if they are a DSLR camera perched on a dolly. My surroundings appear to me in vividly saturated technicolor; the greenest of green grass, the bluest of blue skies, the pinkest of pink sunsets. Context and familiarity disappears. It’s as if I were a new born, with a fully developed adult consciousness, bearing witness to my environment for the first time. My art references the renewal of urban decay through the dissociated lens of depersonalization/derealization; disorienting and enveloping viewers with data through sculptural relief built up with densely layered rock debris, collage and formless color fields comprised of pigment, glitter, paint, and collage. My goal is to renew and make whole wreckage.