Trevor Guthrie










Guthrie works primarily in monochrome making large format charcoal
drawings. Guthrie makes his point through the re-presentation of found
photographs into larger than life renderings on paper. If contemporary
photographic practice produces photographs through an appropriation or
reinvestigation of painted masterpieces from the past, then Guthrie’s strategies
go towards the opposite. Trevor Guthrie employs photographic materials or
anything he discovers or deems useful towards his endgame. This process is less
the conceptually driven tactics of art historical research than a plundering of the
treasures inherent in our image-rich digital playground. This treasure is then
organized as a of visual diary pieced together through a system of discovered
truths. These truths are tempered by the artist’s experiences. Guthrie involves
himself with photographic source material that somehow connects to his
childhood yet strongly rooted in the morbidity of an adult awareness.
Guthrie has been exposed to artists working in a similar manner.Gerhard Richter’s
influence is apparent as is Francis Bacon and Edward Hopper. Trevor Guthrie has
combined his influences the way a DJ superimposes transparent layers of
curated sound thus achieving an original piece of music. Untitled, 2006 is taken
from a photograph of an air Canada plane on the runway with smoke billowing
from it’s cabin. Guthrie was raised in Canada which makes the drawing a visual
pun. The image’s horizontal strokes remind one of Francis Bacon’s paint handling
without pushing too far into Gerhard Richter’s visual language. Guthrie has
found a delicate balance with his method that avoids the traps of stylistic
imitation. A liberation from the trap of overt imitation is what sets these pictures
apart. When one first views a Guthrie drawing, there is an instant shock. This
shock is the subconscious mind’s recognition that it is not a photograph being
experienced, but Guthrie’s capturing of the camera’s version of reality’s ghost.
This talent for finding the mysterious understructure of pictorial code is also the
inherent strength of Francis Bacon. Even the most mundane of subjects is infused
with meaning in this way. The sublime takes on the much more elusive forms such
as an apparition beneath the picture plane.
Guthrie’s drawing from 2004 entitled Myself on the no. 67 is a view of an empty
city bus seen from the back looking forward with a self portrait of the artist seen
sitting alone at the front right hand side of the bus interior. There is a sublime
reflective quality to the mirrored surfaces found in the bus interior. Light is
bouncing all through the stainless steel framework of the interior, an interior that
remains strangely lonely at the same time. The monadic artist with his back
turned from the viewer is reminiscent of Vermeer’s self portrait. Myself on the no.
67 could be seen as a contemporary Edward Hopper. As in Hopper, Guthrie has
the ability to inhabit that lonely urban interior space. This type of pictorial space
Guthrie inhabits is a deep perspective system heightened by dramatic
cinematic lighting for which charcoal on paper is a perfect medium.

© 2006 Noah Becker

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