Trevor Guthrie


Trevor Guthrie. Hindenbunn, metaphor for 21st-century art market hype

Vanitas

Trevor Guthrie black-and-white drawings, meticulous crafted, and intensely realistic in concept and form, can easily be associated with late 19th-century symbolism, as well as to some in between the wars disturbing surrealist paintings and photographs. In both cases, we are confronted with landscapes and portraits of civilisation in transition, and of human metamorphosis and trauma. Things are getting out of control and weird. Social anamorphosis is already shaping new sombre thoughts, inducing depression and nightmares.

Donald Kuspit (1) analyses Guthrie’s dark drawings as outcomes of Freudian conundrums, and find them dark and cynical. Almost all of his pictures are ironical commentaries to other famous artworks and artists. Like the Pieta by Michelangelo, or Louise Bourgeois’ spider overviewing a landscape of Earth’s decline, Helmut Newton’s crocodile crawling on a luxurious bed over an absent body, or a de-construction of some Warhol’s disasters after paying a visit to Edward Ruscha in Los Angeles A stop that most probably never happened.

Interesting artworks have many layers to be explored by the viewers. The life and drama of the artist (Van Gogh and so on) is probably the one understanding that dies sooner. What really really matters is the power of the final image, its symmetry and its colour, even if it is on black and white.

António Cerveira Pinto

Trevor Guthrie. Tragedy in South Florida: The End of the Art Fair Age (Homage to Paco Barragan) (2013), charcoal on paper (126 x 95 cm)

NOTES

  1. The airplane has a tail of smoke from a burning banner announcing “Art Basel Miami Beach.”  Was his art exhibited at the famous marketing spectacle, or does the work convey his anger, rage, resentment at the fact that it was not?  The point of the work, like all Guthrie’s work, is that death, in the form of depression—so-called living death—is always present, always real, as the cynic thinks.  It is colorless and expressionless, like gray—shrouds everything in gray, fusing black and white to convey the meaninglessness of life.
    — in “Trevor Guthrie: Cynical Realist” by Donald Kuspit (August 2020), White Hot Magazine.
Trevor Guthrie. Myself as a Specimen, 2009

Vanitas

Los dibujos en blanco y negro de Trevor Guthrie, meticulosamente elaborados e intensamente realistas en concepto y forma, pueden asociarse fácilmente con el simbolismo de finales del siglo XIX, así como con algunas pinturas y fotografías surrealistas inquietantes entre guerras. En ambos casos, nos enfrentamos a paisajes y retratos de civilizaciones en transición y de metamorfosis y traumas humanos. Las cosas se están saliendo de control y son raras. La anamorfosis social ya está configurando nuevos pensamientos sombríos, provocando depresión y pesadillas. Donald Kuspit analiza los dibujos oscuros de Guthrie como resultado de acertijos freudianos, y los encuentra oscuros y cínicos. Casi todas sus imágenes son comentarios irónicos de otras obras de arte y artistas famosos. Como la Piedad de Miguel Ángel, o la araña de Louise Bourgeois que contempla un paisaje del declive de la Tierra, el cocodrilo de Helmut Newton arrastrándose en una lujosa cama sobre un cuerpo ausente, o una deconstrucción de algunos desastres de Warhol después de visitar a Edward Ruscha en Los Ángeles. Una parada que probablemente nunca sucedió. Las obras de arte interesantes tienen muchas capas para ser exploradas por los espectadores. La vida y el drama del artista (Van Gogh y demás) es probablemente el único entendimiento que muere temprano. Lo que realmente importa es la potencia de la imagen final, su simetría y su color, incluso si está en blanco y negro.

António Cerveira Pinto

Trevor Guthrie, Ode to Segantini #2 (2014), charcoal on paper (100 x 70 cm)

NOTAS

  1. What’s a bat ray, a kind of fish, doing flying in the sky above a city in Trevor Guthrie’s Scena Nebbiosa, 2016—it belongs in the ocean–and what’s a bear doing sitting in a canoe on a river—rather than in the forest where it belongs—in Guthrie’s The Fairytale Years Later (Melancholia), 2017? What at first sweeping glance looks like a straightforward description of a familiar place suddenly becomes unfamiliar: the animals are out of place—absurdly out of place, suggesting that the scene is surreal, and the works surrealistic, neo-surrealistic, one might say, for they are not totally absurd, as the usual unintelligible surreal work is, but realistic.
    — in “Trevor Guthrie: Cynical Realist” by Donald Kuspit (August 2020), White Hot Magazine.

In Conversation: Trevor Guthrie (The Woolf)

Welcome, Trevor. When did you first start to think of yourself as a visual artist?

I set a very high bar for what I think an artist is, but maybe it was when I found out that another artist, a really famous artist represented by several international galleries and in major museum collections, was stealing my ideas. So perhaps after 30+ years of practice, I have had a minor amount of influence—just enough to humbly consider myself an artist.

How did you arrive at charcoal as your primary medium?

I actually painted in oil for more than 20 years before shifting to charcoal. This happened in 2003 when asked by a friend to decorate the interior of a Zürich bar where he was throwing a Halloween party. I came up with a series of drawings that weren’t the obvious goblins and ghosts, and were more illustrations of Edgar Allen Poe stories. One of my most well-known works, ‘The Guest Room’, came out of this group of drawings and was key to my first gallery representation. I’ve had the luxury of a significant degree of ‘material recognition’ with charcoal since then.

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@trevguthrie

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