“… tension between geometrical form and formless gesture…” Donald Kuspit
All artists must address the metaphor. Whatever the motive, it is an internalized symbolism- an intellectual journey that defines and quantifies the visual experience. Inevitably it is the metaphor that communicates to form a union between maker and recipient.
Early in my career my works integrated a systemic patterning of precise bead-like dots of color and extruded thin lines of paint into geometric formations. These patterns referenced woven girders or frameworks in an explosion of color- a charged cubist space. One critic referred to these paintings as “Supercharged Constructivism.” Found materials such as string, wood, plastic and other found materials were integrated as well. Eventually, this led me to form fragmented grids that broke away from the restrictions of the canvas outer rectangle/square. Painted wood constructions were bolted together to form a wall relief.
Over the years I began to emphasize the gestured mark. In a series of paintings where I drew into a polystyrene substrate with a knife, I painted the crevices and the raised surfaces to create the illusion of materials found in nature such as cracked or carved wood and/or rock formations. By physically carving into the raised surfaces, the works were intended to be paradoxical- flattened space and dimensional at the same time to create surface ambiguity.
Most recently, by first pouring, splattering, scraping or dripping paint on a resistant surface set the stage for my acrylic collages and paint mosaics. Paint skins, as I call them, were torn and sometimes cut into tiles, and then adhered to board or paper to form grid formations. These paint mosaics addressed a prevailing preoccupation I have for pitting order against disorder.
In my new works, I am attempting to buildup color surfaces with a complexity of brushed marks. I hope to create an emotional experience for the viewer- a shared proprioception between artist and viewer. What I hope to be revealed through color, light and mark is a somewhat esoteric mirror of one’s sense of spirituality.
What continues to keep an active studio is a seeking of deeper truths- truths of life and truths of paint.
Dennis Guastella began his teaching career at South Dakota State University as an Assistant Professor of Art where he taught a variety of courses in art and graphic design. Guastella joined the Visual Arts Technology faculty at Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1980. He worked with area professional designers to form the Graphic Design Technology program where graphic design theory, practice and computer technology became the focus of the curriculum. He served for 12 years as the Visual Arts Department Chairman and retired from full time teaching in 2010. He has been a Lecturer at Stamps Art and Design, the University of Michigan since 2008 and was promoted to Lecturer II in 2013.
Earning a B.F.A from Wayne State University and an M.F.A from Eastern Michigan University, his fine art is in numerous public and private collections including the Sheldon Art Galleries, Joslyn Art Museum, The Comptroller of the Currency, Chicago, IL, Nieman Marcus, Michigan Bell, Kellogg’s Corporation, First Martin Corporation of Ann Arbor, MI. He has exhibited his paintings in well over one hundred local, regional and national art competitions. He was awarded two Creative Artists Grants through the Michigan Council for the Arts.