|Uncle Lee holding one of Guy's paintings|
PB: I think you're doing justice to painting and sculpture nearly equally. Tell me a bit about what gets you going in the studio and how the pieces develop as you work.
GC: I have been building my paintings the same way for a long time; hand-made, irregular rectangles cut from 1/8" poplar sheets with a frame-type edge glued on, then layering them with many coats traditional gesso (rabbit skin glue and chalk), usually in just slightly warmer or cooler tones of white, gray, or yellow. Over weeks or months the surfaces build up, creating unique tactile painting-like objects. I think of the surfaces as skin-like and the shapes body-like… kind of intimate abstract portraits. I like that the paintings may have a connection to the people around me or the Greenpoint neighborhood were I worked for 25 years. I have even photographed friends and family holding the paintings in front of their faces, a kind of portrait or mask.
The ceramic sculptures began only a few years ago. I was inspired by the small ceramics my kids were bringing home from school. I found the ceramics studio Brickhouse in LIC and took a class. I knew before I started that I just wanted to work the clay with my hands. That’s the first thing you do with clay—squeeze it through your fingers! I made many very lumpy shit-like vases and glazed them in crazy glossy colors. I thought they were interesting. Since then the vase or vessel container has remained a starting point. They have grown bigger, with arms, feet and noses, and also have a disgusting but beautiful body reference. The bases were just an accident. I needed to put the sculpture on something and all I had around were these old speakers in the studio; I still haven't had the nerve to show them like that outside of the studio.
I haven't quite figured out yet all the ins and outs of these two bodies work, but I think they share a certain predisposition with the handling of materials. Really making or building paintings, not painting them, and squeezing and man handling earth/mud, clay into form. Working things with my hands is important.
PB: As far as other artists are concerned, whose work has served as a touchstone for you?
GC: Lawrence Carroll is someone whose work I always think about. I love the way he puts things together. There is a real intimacy to his work, and you know it’s not just some formal or theory-driven exercise.
William Tucker is another strong influence. I worked for Bill for years and I inherited his studio back in 1990. Having been around his hand-worked, bolder surfaces for so long it’s really no surprise that when I pick up clay I am driven to follow his lead. Purvis Young, James Castle, Forrest Bess… the so- called outsider artists. Theirs is the work that is, in the end, maybe the most interesting—driven to make things under extraordinary circumstances, away from any real audience.
PB: Is there a community of artists that you're a part of and have there been some studio visits and input that have informed your work?
GC: Yes, it’s always great to have friends to the studio. I love to look at art and talk art. You always learn something from a studio visit, but you have to know what to take from it and what to leave behind. After seeing my show last week, Alexi Worth called my paintings, "Tray Paintings." That was great! I had never thought of them that way—it solidifies the objective quality of the work. Eyal Danieli has just written a great short piece for my show at Sullivan Street Frames, really making a case for the connection between the sculpture and the paintings. John Zinnser and I are constantly talking shop—he also helped me write a catalog piece. Seth Forman, Lyle Starr, Eve Aschheim, Ana Vilarrasa… they all put up with me.
PB: What's been on your reading-looking-listening list lately?
GC: I have always really struggled with reading, but recently finished a collection of short stories by Annie Proulx. The collection of names and nicknames in her stories reminds me of all the nicknames that I grew up around. Everyone had a nickname in my neighborhood, Zez, Yac, LittleYac, Danny Pockets. There is always a real connection, a profound feeling in Proulx's work between people and the places they live.
guyccorriero.com and mitart-gallery.com