Guerra Exhibition at Eden Rock Gallery
An exhibition of work by Graham Day Guerra (Critic, Foundation Studies) opened August 8, 2013 at Eden Rock Gallery, St. Barth’s.
For the previous show Graham Day Guerra had at Eden Rock (July 2012), he chose to focus on the natural beauty of the island’s landscape. Conversely, the inspiration for this exhibition comes from a no less conspicuous source, but also a somewhat less sublime aspect of the island: it’s celebrity culture. All of the images used for the artwork in this exhibition were taken on the island by paparazzi and posted to celebrity gossip websites (TMZ, Gawker, OMG! and the like).
Graham Day Guerra selected these images from many thousands available to anyone doing a simple Google image web search. The images were then edited, printed, mounted and given a heavy coating of encaustic (an ancient art media comprised of damar resin and wax).
The artists’ hope is that through this process he can take what is otherwise seen as disposable cultural artifacts (candid celebrity pics) and turn them into something more precious – Art (hence the shows’ title, roughly translated from Baudelaire: “You gave me mud and I have turned it to gold”). The selected images find these clebs caught in some of their most unscripted moments of joy (Stephanie Seymour splashing in the waves), vanity (Jay Z snapping a picture of Beyonce on the beach), and awkwardness (Lindsay Lohan trying on a new swimsuit at Louis Vuitton).
These humanizing moments are what the artist has chosen to focus on and celebrate in this exhibition. To that end, he has increased the images to portrait scale and used a traditional portrait medium (encaustic) to preserve them and give them a nuanced and corporeal surface. And, although the medium partially obscures the underlying portrait, the simple human nature of each of the individuals still comes through.