Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

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For an artist, defining the need and drive to produce work is akin to pulling back the canopy of the universe, to reveal God. For an artist, these kinds of answers are not the end, but the means and the work and the want and the need and the push and the pull. Like so many other creators, the invisible answer to creation is what drives Denver artist Chris Guarino.

If we solved the question on the existence of God, or what happens to us after we die, life would certainly be less colorful. Or creepy. And while Chris Guarino may not be the grimmest and most dark-hearted soul you’ve ever met, I don’t think I would want to live in his house - a place where all the creations from the dark parts of his brain live as well.

I suppose that when conceptualized on the whole, life is a pretty scary place to live. And while most of us spend our lives trying to move away from the darkness by painting our lives and homes in rosy colors, some of us begin with a fascination of staring into that darkness. As a kid, this is exactly where Chris Guarino began. Maybe it had to do with his immersion in Catholicism and subsequent renunciation of that faith which outlined the gravest of dangers and living, breathing cliffs of existence. Or just maybe, the macbre and the grotesque simply interested him in the same way that fires and explosions interests other boys.

This is not to say that, at some point, fires and explosions didn’t interest Guarino, because he is a product of this culture that we are all immersed in. The same for music – for many years it held his attention. And while religion served as a formative voice for his early experience, Guarino has found himself in a very different place. Now, however, Guarino has a very different feel for that early voice. “Religion has been and continues to be a huge cause of death, misery and seperation. A seperation of mother from daughter, father from son, man from woman, humans from their selves, and the creator from the creation,” notes Guarino.

In an effort to find new connection in his life Guarino funneled-down everything down, and he decided to work on his own; finally spend deliberate time create everything that he had long seen inside his head and wanted to express to the world around him.

Because, in the end, what Guarino does believe is that “we are punished for failing to live up to our potential, our failure to be and do what we were put here for.” Guarino says that, “I believe we carry out this punishment ourselves. I believe that heaven, hell and purgatory exist on this plane of existence and we float between them at different parts of our lives. They are self inflicted and self induced, and in many cases self sustaining.” And so, in an effort to be a part of s something bigger than himself, Guarino funneled-down everything, to find the reason that he is here. Now, the expression of this ideal has found its voice in the scream of all the media he employs in his work.

In all, Guarino has always had lots of ideas. As a child, he was always in the accelerated, gifted classes. As an adult, he wanted to do everything. Create many things. Use all the mediums set forth as possibility from birth. However, in the last several years Guarino has narrowed-down his focus in an effort to bank all effort, all talent and all drive. Unlike his previous outlets, Guarino wanted to concentrate and create only what he, as one man, could create. No more teams. No more bands. And so, for Chris Guarino visual art was that perfect outlet, that perfect medium – and boy, how many different mediums are afforded in this landscape of art.

Guarino works in 3-dimensions. Two-dimensions. He life casts. He creates forms and sculptures and paintings and employs so many mediums in an attempt to extend his artful hand that it may be easier to count the ones he doesn’t use. He’s an illustrator, painter. He uses oils and pastels. He creates digital art. If his history is any indicator, Guarino’s use of every medium he can shouldn’t be surprising.

Guarino doesn’t produce the creatures he does, for shock value – or just to make pretty things. Like life, Guarino’s work is multifaceted and laced with meaning. Working with so many mediums enables Guarino to play with these concepts; these meanings; these challenges. Often his work serves as a mirror; as a vehicle to explore the little imperfections in him and his world. And as equally potent is his exploration of Catholicism and more expansively, of creation – human creation.

And while Chris Guarino is not a morbid character – nor is his work inherently morbid, themes of death and darkness prevail. In all of the dark corners of his catalogue are tortured faces and metallic bodies reaching beyond, into the afterlife, or if not that then, into their previous life – leaning for a look into their heartbroken histories – histories that were stripped from them, for misuse.

But just as Guarino has adapted his voice to elegantly wrap around so many mediums, so too has he adapted his sensibilities around being a business man and moving forward. So, where Guarino’s hand has sculpted so much deliciously creepy horrors, he also has found other suitable avenues to move into; make a sustainable living and grow even more as an artist. Look for new creations from Guarino in the coming year – as he is by no means even close to being satisfied with his life’s work.

To keep-up with Guarino, visit his site: www.chrisguarino.com