A Provocative Pursuit Of Craft & Self
Irish Artist, Actor and Author Gareth Maguire, talks with Stout about inspiration, growth and authenticity in his craft.
Gareth Maguire is an Irish artist living and working in Austin, Texas who works primarily in neo-expressionist, graffiti-style painting, mixing stainless steel with canvas, steel bars with wood and applying oil bar, acrylic and spray paint to just about any useable surface.
His paintings are punctuated by doodles and phrases from his daughters and images and poetry from his favorite painters and writers. His life in Northern Ireland, England, France, New York, Los Angeles and Texas has given him a perspective rendered in contradictions—colorful yet blacker than black, unique yet familiar, a unification of the obscure and the obvious.
What are the top 3 things you’ve learned from pursuing your craft?
- Be yourself everyone else is taken
- Authentic freedom comes from within
- This is my story so why not try to write a great one
Who have you learned the most from?
I have learned most from my three daughters. I am constantly inspired by the drawings my daughters do and how they are ever evolving.
What/where are your favorite sources of inspiration?
My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I am inspired by trips to museums, galleries or by looking at art books to see the work of other artists. I’ve been touched by everyone from Da Vinci to Picasso from Bacon to Basquiat.
Any skills or inspirations from other disciplines you’ve tapped into?
As a poet, I read poetry daily and am often inspired from this. I’ll use a line from a poem or lyric from a song I’m listening to because it’s part of my stream of consciousness. Whether it’s my daughters drawing or thoughts like these, they serve to inspire or impact the art in some way. Sometimes it’s just part of the piece and other times it becomes the main focus. A good example of this is “Good Time Jesus” (see middle picture below), inspired by the poem of the same name by James Tate. I was inspired by the thought of what Jesus might look like.
What is your process?
I usually start drawing or writing even if I have nothing in mind. I most often find inspiration through work as opposed to being able to sit around and wait for the inspiration to fall in my lap.
I am constantly inspired by the drawings my daughters do and how they are ever evolving.
– Gareth Maguire
What’s your signature and the one thing you consistently do to maintain it?
Most of my work has a figurative element and frequently contains fragmented portraits and insurgent images from my life, past and present. I recontextualize the works of old masters such as Da Vinci, employing esthetics that echo Basquiat, Bacon, Dubuffet. My work illustrates suggestive dichotomies such as love versus hate and war versus peace. My social commentary ranges from simple and humorous to insightful and highly provocative.
How has your style evolved?
I find my style is constantly changing and evolving. I’ve particularly enjoyed getting into the world of print making…something about which I knew absolutely nothing until I first went to Flatbed studio here in Austin and started working with master printmaker Veronica Ceci.
Any surprises insights from pursuing your craft?
I’ve been surprised to see how often people can be moved positively, and on occasion negatively, by my work. My work was recently banned from a show in Ireland (having been deemed unsuitable for public display) and it was also banned from an art opening at a branch of the Wells Fargo Bank due to complaints from some of the staff.
What do you hope others experience from your work?
I feel each drawing or painting is a page of my diary. I hope people get a glimpse into my life and my story and they are touched in some positive way by the experience.
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