The Blaffer Art Museum (University of Houston) presents the first solo museum exhibition of work by artist John Guzman (b. 1984). “Flesh and Bone” focuses on works produced in the artist’s hometown of San Antonio and the Texas debut of paintings completed during, and immediately following, time at the NXTHVN Studio Fellowship Program in New Haven, CT. The exhibition can be seen June 23 through September 24, 2023.
As a spectator to claustrophobic psychological and physical states growing up in San Antonio’s Southside, Guzman’s monumental paintings are a byproduct of experiences, memories, and reflections of the artist’s environment. The artist abstracts the human figure to reflect the harm endured by the body of those around him, and the unrecognizable transformation brought on by years of punishment, relapse, and self-destruction.
Through large-scale paintings, John Guzman assembles distorted, tangled, and deteriorated figures confined in cramped domestic spaces, concealing their behaviors from others and themselves. He layers heavily textured brush strokes to cut and gouge out a dizzying carnage of disfigured hands, feet, knees, and teeth enmeshed and mangled into new beings. Using a palette of muted colors and dark lines, the pummeling mutilation of the human body creates a visual language for the condition of existence continuing to prevail at the edge of barely living.
A markedly distinct spatial shift emerges in more recent works, pointing to its link between the environment and its inhabitants in the artist’s exploration of new space, styles, subject matter, and attention to simple lines. Working in Connecticut, the artist continues to explore biomorphic forms, yet addresses the fragility and interiority of the psyche and altered landscapes.
Throughout the work, John Guzman visualizes inexpressible, yet consequential conditions of suffering and, in so doing, articulates a departure from cyclical patterns of self-destruction becoming his own reality.
“John Guzman: Flesh and Bone” is co-organized by Rigoberto Luna, independent curator, and Erika Mei Chua Holum, Cynthia Woods.
About the Artist
John Guzman is a self-taught painter who previously pursued printmaking while studying at the Southwest School of Art. In 2021, the artist presented the solo exhibition “I Would Have Killed To See It” at Presa House Gallery, curated by Rigoberto Luna.
His work has since been featured in distinguished art fairs, including The Armory Show, NYC, and ZONA MACO, CDMX, with New York and Los Angeles-based Sean Kelly Gallery.
About the Curators
Rigoberto Luna is a San Antonio-born independent curator and the co-founder and director of Presa House Gallery in San Antonio, TX. Most recently, Luna curated “Soy de Tejas: A Statewide Survey of Latinx Art” on view at Centro de Artes in San Antonio, Texas until July 2nd, 2023.
Erika Mei Chua Holum is the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Assistant Curator at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. Forthcoming projects include a collaborative group exhibition with KADIST and solo exhibitions with Reynier Leyva Novo and Cian Dayrit.