Rising Star: Harif Guzman (portrait by @lastsuspect)
Harif Guzman is a true artist, visionary and a quintessential renaissance man. In the world of fly-by-night artists and stalled upstarts, Mr. Guzman is one of the few artists on the scene today that has actually put in the time and clocked the mileage. He lives and breaths his art. When observing his paintings and sculptures, one can't help but be swept into the vibration and passion of his work. In stark contrast to his contemporaries, most of which have the uncanny ability to rattle off bullet points from their most recent artist statement, Harif is straight forward and to the point. Mr. Harif Guzman is truly a man of few words but a rising artist of tremendous talent.
1) What inspires your work the most?
To be honest, I feel like the situations I've been forced to deal with from an early age by having to travel and shift through different cities -- these cultures as well as colors from these places have somehow been subliminally downloaded into me. Not to mention, women and their beauty have always been the fountain of my work.
2) What are you ultimately trying to convey through your art and creativity?
My art is a direct reflection of my point of view on an array of topics from politics, nature, love, science and technology. As I am constantly introduced and stimulated by new material -- I expect the way I express myself creatively will also broaden. Ultimately my goal is to show people my opinion on various topics and conditions of life through my art.
3) As one of the most creative artists I've ever met -- how do you find time to focus on producing these amazing paintings and sculptures?
That part is perhaps the most difficult. Trying to manage a personal life and make your own schedule to work is very hard at times. I've really had to sacrifice a great deal to get to this point in my career. I'm starting to agree with the saying, "You can only serve one master and that master is my art."
4) What is usually the first step in your creative process?
The first step for me is to always clear and clean my studio before gathering all my necessary materials. I pretty much know what I want to create before I start any piece. However, I am also very careful to always remain present in the experiment while keeping an open mind that things could change from my original concept.
Many Directions of a Relationship, (107x107.5), Oil on Canvas, 2015
5) Is there a medium you prefer above the rest?
For the most part, give me my oil paint and a canvas and I'm in heaven.
6) Do you remember the first work you created that made you feel you were finally ready to share your work with the world?
Although it might not qualify as my first work created for viewing, I was really proud to introduce my L.E.D light series which was very well received and collected.
7) I know you have collaborated with Damien Hirst and Retna in the past, are there any other artists you would love to collaborate with?
Damien actually put one my posters on his spin wheel and has primarily served as a tremendous inspiration to see his operation and attitude towards creating. This way of working made our collaboration feel more like fun. However, Sterling Ruby is someone I would love to collaborate with in the very near future.
8) You seem to love traveling -- how have your travels manifested in your work?
I love traveling now as fully realized artist. Traveling inspires me much more now as I'm like a sponge absorbing all the fonts and patterns of different regions and cultures.
9) How do you combat the impression that people have of you being a "rock-star" in the art world -- or is this something you even think about?
I really don't think about it much. I really just live my life, however, I do want to make sure people are taking my work seriously. Having said that, I do realize I have to take certain steps to combat this misconception.
Heart Attack, (72x60), Oil on Canvas, 2015
10) Do you believe this public perception of you has helped or hindered your career as an artist?
I can admit it has hindered me because people only see a photo on the internet and assume this is the sum of my life and career. However, at the same time it has helped me to become a downtown icon and influencer. I often time feel as if I'm creating my own genre and niche within the art world.
11) What would you really like people to know about Harif Guzman?
That I'm not going anywhere. I'm in it for the long haul. I love creating and seeing my hard work pay off. I'm also a hopeless and helpless romantic.
12) Who are some of your favorite collectors of your work and why?
I'm very fortunate to have some cool and loyal collectors. Alex Soros, George Merck and Richard Saks to name a few are collectors I really admire. They are the kind of collectors who buy with their heart and not their ears. Even my collectors like Toby Kay, Dag Kramer and Henry Stimler all collect work to assist artists in building their careers, not just to flip work to make a quick buck.
13) What can we expect next out of the "Talented Mr. Guzman"
I am working very hard at this moment to produce some work for the next Whitney Biennial as well as some major projects in Hong Kong, Korea and Paris.
all photos courtesy of @HarifGuzman