Loss can be represented in so many ways, paintings included. Art is a way of channeling one’s inner emotions from love to happiness to grief. There has been a long list of artists who grief or describe their losses through colorful or somber looking paintings.
John Brendan Guinan is the featured artist for today’s article. We will be looking at some of his work from his The Art of Mourning series which was exhibited in solos and group shows in New York City in honor of his late Father. John also featured in a Culture on Top podcast, where he spoke about the chaos his Father’s death brought and how he channeled that feeling into his collection of Abstract art pieces.
The series is based on how he handled the death of his Father, J. Edward Guinan, who was a former Catholic priest. He also founded the largest homeless shelter in D.C. The Washington Post featured an article based on the philanthropic life, and death of Edward Guinan, who died at 78. Most if not all of the paintings were done during the period his Father was sick, and when John was dealing with being sober.
His paintings are divided into two main sub categories;
The Grace Room
It is a bright room filled with six large scaled paintings. Just like the title, the Grace room showcases paintings that spoke about hope.
The Despair Room
Unlike the Grace room, the color scheme for the paintings in this category is more dark tones, blues and blacks.
Enjoy the journey as we explore John’s creativity possessing his sorrow:
It is a painting filled with very warm, vivid colors. It holds a feeling of welcoming, and the six vibrant yellow brushstrokes, represents the members of the Guinan family: Kathleen, Tim, Sarah, Matt, John and of course Edward. Edward Guinan is the top brushstroke which leaned out of the painting a bit more than the other strokes.
2. Immortal Etching
This is more of a physical, process oriented artwork. It is a blue and white painting which was scrapped away with a pallet knife. Guinan reveals this piece represents a struggle with not being able to understand the unknown. Life crisis and confusion is universal, and that is what this piece tried to signify.
3. Mother, Father, Holy Ghost
This piece sums up Gunian’s spiritual intensity. It comprises of over 30,000 streams of consciousness words overlapping about his Father. The writings consists of phrases like, ‘Are you proud? Do you love me? Do you see me, Dad? Please hug me. Please stay by my side.
4. Sunless Horizon
It is a painting of a blue sky and extremely green vegetation. In a way, this is the most calming artwork in the whole series. It is bright and colorful and sunny without an actual sun being in the painting. John completed this painting only a few months after his Father passed.
5. My Father Lives Here
My Father Lives here is quite possibly the most impeccable and thought provoking piece of artwork from the series. It was one of the first paintings John completed after his Father’s death. It has a lot of deep hues of blue contrasted by subtle whites and pinks making for a somewhat mystical and other worldly atmosphere. The painting is just trying to pass the message of our work living after us, even when have transitioned. It is major remembrance to his Father and one of his works, and essay called ‘If We Listen Well.’
John’s authenticity and sincerity during this time afforded him with work that is not only beautiful to behold, but inspire others to channel their pain, hurt, confusion and healing into art that perfectly captures their stage of grief.
We encourage you to express yourself through art. You may be surprised at what you can communicate, even with just a little pen and pad.
Curator for The Art Of Mourning Series: LATELA DC
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Here are some prompts:
Have you tried expressing yourself with art or
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Which of John’s pieces are your favorite? What do you like about it?
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