Colors charge us externally and internally. I translate these colors into works every day. On an intuitive level, I am guided by the colors in nature.
Light and color pervade every aspect of Jennifer Guidi’s work. The Los Angeles artist’s radiant, mandala-like paintings are marked by tonal and chromatic shifts that operate in concert with richly textured surfaces. The effect echoes natural phenomena and undergirds a powerful archetypal symbolism. Guidi mixes sand into her paints—she uses both oils and acrylics—to produce immersive abstract compositions that borrow from the pared-down structures of Minimalism while evoking ancient theories of energy and perception.
Born in Redondo Beach, California, Guidi received a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. On moving to Los Angeles, she was immediately struck by the city’s distinctive hazy light and blocky 1950s architecture. Basing her early paintings on her own photographs of local domestic interiors, she became increasingly interested in the colors and textures of her subjects’ walls. Following a 2012 visit to Morocco, she began to pursue a more abstract approach, drawing inspiration from the heavy stitching and irregular undersides of the country’s handmade rugs. She made her first abstract “dot paintings” that year, applying small dabs of white paint to black grounds.
Guidi began incorporating sand into her panels in 2013, using sticks found on the beach in Hawaii as simple mark-making tools. She then developed a system of underpainting in which she first applies a thick layer of sand to the surface of the canvas; while this is still wet, she makes marks with a dowel in controlled and repetitive movements, often adding sand and paint along the edges of the divots. The result of this intensely physical process is a hypnotic swirl of saturated color that is at once contemporary and timeless, prompting consideration of the diversity of cultural and corporeal meanings that have been assigned to shape and pattern.
Guidi also often explores visual manifestations of duality—light and darkness, abstraction and figuration, science and mysticism—finding symmetry and balance in seeming opposition. This is apparent even when her work returns to representational elements, as it does in the twinned serpentine canvases of To Protect and Hold You Up (2019). (Such imagery has appeared in Guidi’s work since 2013, when she produced a series of “snake stick” sculptures that reference the serpent as a symbol of rebirth and transformation, and sticks as totems of strength, healing, and magic.)
These diverse interests recur throughout Guidi’s oeuvre, suffused as it is with allusions to spirituality and the metaphysical, and drawing as it does on various practices originating in Eastern tradition. After watching Tibetan monks make a sand mandala, she moved from using horizon lines as the foundational element of her compositions to preferring a central focal point. She has also alluded to chakras (a system of corporeal energy centers with origins in early Hinduism) alongside Enlightenment color theory. Citing the influence of predecessors including Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, and Hilma af Klint, Guidi makes work that also resonates with images and methods far beyond the Western art-historical narrative.
Twelve Tracks: Jennifer Guidi
Jennifer Guidi shares a selection of the music she listens to in the studio and speaks about its connection to her meditative painting process.
The artist speaks with Laura Fried about her most recent paintings, the symbol of the serpent, and her evolving relationship to color.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
(RED) Auction 2018
Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye join Bono to spearhead (RED)’s third auction of contemporary art and design, raising funds for the global fight against AIDS. As Gagosian prepares the preview exhibition, Gillian Pistell looks at the urgency of this vital cause.
Jennifer Guidi: Heliocentric is available for online reading from April 22 through May 21 as part of Artist Spotlight: Jennifer Guidi. Her first exhibition with Gagosian, Heliocentric featured fourteen luminous paintings with surfaces that oscillate between color and texture. Images of these works, as well as installation views of the exhibition, are accompanied by an essay by Stuart Krimko in this accompanying publication.
Jennifer Guidi: Heliocentric (Hong Kong: Gagosian, 2018)
April 22–28, 2020
Light and color pervade every aspect of Jennifer Guidi’s work. The Los Angeles artist’s radiant, mandala-like paintings are marked by tonal and chromatic shifts that operate in concert with richly textured surfaces. Mixing sand into oils and acrylics, she produces immersive abstract compositions that borrow from the pared-down structures of Minimalism while evoking a powerful archetypal symbolism.
Photo: Brica Wilcox
The Afghan Carpet Project
Lisa Anne Auerbach, Liz Craft, Meg Cranston, Francesca Gabbiani, Jennifer Guidi, Toba Khedoori
For The Afghan Carpet Project, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles invited six artists, including Jennifer Guidi, to travel to Afghanistan to learn about the history and process of hand-weaving carpets and then to create designs to be produced by Afghan weavers. The project was initiated by the nonprofit organization AfghanMade, along with carpet producer Christopher Farr, Inc., with proceeds benefiting Arzu Studio Hope. This video provides an account of the project, including interviews with the participating artists and footage from their trip to Kabul and Bamiyan in March 2014, as well as views of the resulting carpets displayed at the Hammer Museum.
Still from “The Afghan Carpet Project”
One Day at a Time
Manny Farber and Termite Art
October 14, 2018–March 11, 2019
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Inspired by American painter and film critic Manny Farber and his legendary underground essay “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art” (1962), One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art featured approximately thirty artists and more than one hundred works of painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, and sound dating from the 1950s to the present. Work by Jennifer Guidi and Jonas Wood was included.
Jennifer Guidi, Eclipse (Painted Mandala Mountain SF #1A, Black Sand, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Red), 2017 © Jennifer Guidi
Generations Part 1
Female Artists in Dialogue
February 22–June 30, 2018
Sammlung Goetz, Munich
Sammlung Goetz celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2018 with a three-part exhibition dedicated to artistic creations by women. On display were nearly two hundred works by more than forty artists in an intergenerational dialogue. Generations Part 1 focused on the appropriation of ordinary materials and practices rooted in advertising and design. Work by Ellen Gallagher, Katharina Grosse, and Jennifer Guidi was included.
Jennifer Guidi, Becoming the Mountain (Painted White Sand SF #1F, White and Yellow), 2016 © Jennifer Guidi
Visible Light/Luce Visibile
July 1–September 24, 2017
Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genoa, Italy
Visible Light/Luce Visibile, at Villa Croce, was the first solo museum exhibition by Jennifer Guidi. Painted in spectral tones evoking the colors of the rainbow, the new body of work on view continued the artist’s investigation of light, color, and energy. To create these paintings, Guidi used a system of underpainting in which she first applied a thick layer of sand to the surface of the canvas; while this was still wet, she made marks with a dowel in controlled and repetitive movements, often adding sand and paint along the edges of the divots.
Installation view, Jennifer Guidi: Visible Light/Luce Visibile, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genoa, Italy, July 1–September 24, 2017. Artwork © Jennifer Guidi
The Marciano Collection
May 25–September 16, 2017
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Unpacking: The Marciano Collection was the debut presentation of the collection’s holdings organized by Philipp Kaiser. The title and theme of the show were derived from Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library,” in which he discusses the chaotic potentiality inherent in unpacking and recontextualizing one’s collection. Work by Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Sterling Ruby, Cindy Sherman, Franz West, Jonas Wood, and Christopher Wool was included.
Installation view, Unpacking: The Marciano Collection, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, May 25–September 16, 2017. Artwork, left to right: © Albert Oehlen, © Christopher Wool