Jef Gunn's Statement:
In day-to-day life we try to keep our feet on the ground. We solve problems, we're solid and productive. But I've had the experience in the mountains of the ground giving way. These feet walk the pass, and yet everything is buoyant and transparent. Back at home, I think I'm happiest when I'm standing firm, getting things done. That happiness is not this joy of groundlessness.
Most of these paintings have their beginning in some event in real life. Something happens; a moment of insight or beauty. Flat space, or medieval space, helps us feel peaceful. For this reason I've long shied away from depicting real space. Lately I've been exploring a different kind of space, sometimes flat, yet open and expanding. Foreground, middleground and background are not connected in logical, real space ways, so time seems to expand. When time expands, we relax. At ease, yet awake! The whole event takes place inside No Time.
Jef Gunn was born in Seattle in 1955 and grew up along the West Coast, from Washington to Southern California to Hawaii. He took some college-level courses in the early and mid-1970s, but his real education has been in travel.
The year-plus in Barcelona (1986-87) was the most important time, for there he began to shake off the influence of Picasso and let life and personal history develop through painting. There can be no doubt that other artists were impressing him; most notably the medieval painters of religious icons found in the Museo de Arte Catalán, and, on the other extreme, Spanish expressionists such as Lucio Muñoz, Eduardo Chillida and, most strongly, Antoni Táipes.
Next came a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Although some interesting work came out of those seven months, the changes in his art were not as profound and everlasting. Back home in Seattle the past eight years, he has settled and married, and his focus has been to leave off painting from a place of tragedy and begin painting a sense of home and peace. His compositions have gotten simpler; the symbology subtler yet surer.
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