For centuries, Tibetan Buddhist monks have carried on the tradition of creating and destroying elaborate sand mandalas representing the universe in order to demonstrate the ephemeral nature of reality. Deeply inspired by this practice, Los Angeles-based painter Jennifer Guidi employs supremely rich shades of canary yellow, coral, emerald, and mauve mixed with sand to depict awe-inspiring scenes of California’s deserts at sunset. Her current solo exhibition at Mid-Wilshire’s David Kordansky Gallery, More Life features her largest paintings to date, ones that blur the lines between landscape, minimalism, abstraction and help to elevate human consciousness.
Radiating outwards like ripples from central or slightly off-center axis point, Guidi uses both carved divots or Van Gogh-esque brushstrokes in electrifying colors to create a sense of circular movement in her work. The carved pieces feature the desert landscapes, while the painted works depict imperfect concentric circles on a dark background. These brushstrokes and divots imbue these works with a living quality, as they seem to dance before your very eyes.
Guidi’s creative process with the divot paintings involves using maps, astronomical constellations, and historical diagrams as inspiration in the drawing of her desertscapes on canvases that have already been textured with sand. In order to create her signature mandala-patterned divots, she uses specially designed wooden tools to give these paintings a sense of depth as well as a sculptural quality. The sand is pressed into these dents, giving viewers the sense that there is an entire world condensed into this small area. She upholds the traditions of landscape by using an extreme horizontal format and clearly recognizable mountains and sky, but also modifies it with the assertion that these are internal landscapes, too. Here, Guidi gives viewers a glimpse of a meditative glaze, the magic of esoteric patterns that hang in the air over the physical landscape. We enter the realm of metaphysics with her claim that there is no border between the personal and external.
Here we see foreground, middleground, and background all merge to create fluid canvases that reflect the subjectivity of human vision. The material world is fused with cultural narratives that give it significance and a mythology. One can get lost in the little details, the seemingly infinite number of brushstrokes and pits, all locked in an eternal dance. It is also quite easy to be mesmerized by the wonderfully overwhelming totality of the big picture. Here, the micro and macro stand in equal importance and give us hints about our existence and our place within the grand scheme of things..
Bursting onto the Los Angeles art scene just a few years ago, Guidi has quickly established herself as a strong, unique voice with a penchant for blending a wide variety of local and international influences, including Modernism of the American Southwest, process-centric minimalism, the California-based Light and Space movement, and West Coast abstraction. Her lyrical landscapes combined with her geometric, divinely-inspired forms are a bridge to higher consciousness. They help us connect with ourselves and understand that we are both the infinitesimally small and large at the same time. Through her dynamic, complex optical patterns, we can see that personal and universal are ultimately one and the same.
Jennifer Guidi: More Life
Through October 21, 2017
David Kordansky Gallery
5130 W Edgewood Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90019