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Touching Stone Gallery   Santa Fe, USA

www.touchingstone.com    director@touchingstone.com

 

John Guernsey
Mu - Subliminal Expression of the No Mind
June 6 - July 2, 2008

"Man is a thinking reed but his great works are done when he is not calculating and thinking."

- Teitaro Suzuki (1870 - 1966).

Johm Guernsey

Mu (無), a Japanese/Chinese word for nothing, is said to be a gateway to Zen. It's a state of mind that transcends the perceived distinction between self and the rest of the world. In this state, the mind becomes clear as a mirror, the body merges with the surroundings, thoughts and movements become spontaneous and natural. In this state of mind, an artist no longer creates art as a separate entity; the artist becomes his/her art, which in turn reflects perfectly upon the artist. Santa Fe artist John Guernsey, a life-long Zen practitioner, has been seeking this state of mind in his paintings.

Guernsey developed an interest in painting early (His mother and grandfather were both painters). He studied painting at Alfred University and later at the Art Students’ League. But it was a Chinese sumi-e show in a New York City museum that sparked his interest in Chinese and Japanese sumi-e and calligraphy, particularly Zenga, a form of brush painting practised by Zen Monks. This, along with his Zen practice, formed his desire to create paintings that are spontaneous, alive, and combine elements from Eastern and Western traditions.

Unlike traditional sumi-e painters who apply ink with a variety of Oriental brushes, Guernsey paints with oil, using only a simple palette knife. He recalled how he developed his style. He used to paint in a representational style, he would often scrape off the palette with a knife and swipe the colors onto a piece of newspaper. He was struck by the unexpected beauty of the intermingled colors resulted from his casual hand movements. That is how he wanted to paint! He quickly learned that it was very difficult to deliberately create paintings with such spontaneity. After many experiments, he settled on the simplest tools, oil colors, pigments, a palette knife and no brushes.

However, the most important ingredients are not the tools. As in Japanese Zen painting, the mindset of the painter is of the utmost importance in order to express the ineffable in a direct and uninhibited manner. Guernsey prepares for each painting session by emptying his mind through Zazen meditation. Then, in a burst of energy, he would apply colors onto paper with a single or a few strokes of a palette knife. The aim is to project himself in an instant onto the medium, with minimal conscious thoughts and deliberate thinking. He works with either watercolor paper or Japanese paper. The former accentuates impact and strength. The translucent nature of Japanese paper yields delicate nuance uncommon for this medium. With this approach, the creation of each painting is fresh, vibrant, and immediate.

The current exhibition, Mu - Subliminal Expression of the No Mind, features 19 pieces of unusually candid and expressive oil-on-Japanese-paper work that embodies the artist's continued artistic and spiritual journey.

 

Click on the images to view selected paintings.

Inquiry/order: director@touchingstone.com, see Inquiry/Order

 

 

 

Guernsey-Mushin-18x10w.jpg (43361 bytes)

 

"Mushin" 2008   18" x 10"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

24" x 16.25"  black wood frame

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Guernsey-Turbid-18x10w.jpg (38483 bytes)

 

"Turbid" 2008   18" x 10"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

24" x 16.25"  black wood frame

 

 

 

Guernsey-Glissando-11x40w.jpg (39397 bytes)

"Glissando" 2008  11" x 40"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green silk-covered mat

17.5" x 48" black wood frame

 

 

 

 

Guernsey-Zip-48x18w.jpg (55365 bytes)

 

 John Guernsey  "Zip" 2008  48" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green silk-covered mat

56" x 26" black wood frame

 

 

 

Guernsey-Surge-48x18w.jpg (66917 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Surge" 2008  48" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green silk-covered mat

56" x 26" black wood frame

 

 

  

 

 

Guernsey-Pop-12x5w.jpg (29332 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Pop" 2008   12" x 5"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

16" x 10"  black wood frame

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Guernsey-Whip-11x33w.jpg (43892 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Whip" 2008  11" x 33"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green silk-covered mat

17.5" x 39.5"  black wood frame

 

 

 

 

 

Guernsey-Seduce-36x18w.jpg (64674 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Seduce" 2008  36" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on black silk-covered mat

42.5" x 24.5" black wood frame

 

 

 

 

Guernsey-Frisk-35x18w.jpg (53947 bytes)

 

 John Guernsey  "Frisk" 2008   35" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green silk-covered mat

42.5" x 24.5"  black wood frame

 

  

 

 

Guernsey-Scatter-40x18w.jpg (90972 bytes)

John Guernsey  "Scatter" 2008  40" x 18" 

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on charcoal silk-covered mat

46" x 24.5" black wood frame

 

 

 

 

Guernsey-Swirl-40x18w.jpg (84997 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Zigzag" 2008  40" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on charcoal silk-covered mat

46" x 24.5" black wood frame

 

 

 

Guernsey-Swoop-11x42w.jpg (50724 bytes)

John Guernsey  "Swoop" 2008  11" x 42"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on charcoal silk-covered mat

17.5" x 48" black wood frame

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Guernsey-Rollercoaster-24x18w.jpg (47758 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Rollercoaster" 2008  24" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

33" x 24.5"  black wood frame

 

 

 

Guernsey-Flutter-26.5x18w.jpg (39250 bytes)

 

John Guernsey  "Flutter" 2008  26.5" x 18"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

33" x 24.5"  black wood frame

 

 

 

 

 

Guernsey-Cling-21.5x11w.jpg (46111 bytes)

John Guernsey  "Cling" 2008  21.5" x 11"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

28" x 17"  black wood frame

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Guernsey-Up&Over-18x11w.jpg (41455 bytes)

John Guernsey  "Up & Over" 2008  18" x 11"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

24" x 16.25"  black wood frame

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Guernsey-Seesaw-11x33w.jpg (59604 bytes)

John Guernsey  "Seesaw" 2008  11" x 33"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on black silk-covered mat

17.5" x 39" black wood frame

 

 

 

Guernsey-Tumble-33x11w.jpg (70857 bytes)

 John Guernsey  "Tumble" 2008  33" x 11"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

39.5" x 17.5"  black wood frame

 

 

 

Guernsey-Tango-32.75x11w.jpg (39666 bytes)

John Guernsey  "Tango" 2008  32.5" x 11"

Oil on Japanese paper, float-mounted on dark green rag mat

39.5" x 17.5"  black wood frame