Transdisciplinary in nature, Justin Brice Guariglia (b. 1974) is a contemporary visual artist who regularly collaborates with philosophers and scientists to unearth the complexities of our rapidly changing world. Guariglia is a Howard Foundation Fellow in Photography at Brown University (2017-2018).
His use of materials, processes, and scale, inform and shape his work, forging new ways of seeing and experiencing the world around us. The work walks the line between photography and painting. Derived from photographs, his painterly surfaces combine highly detailed aerial landscape images, with acrylic inks, unique materials, and innovative printing processes he’s pioneered.
Guariglia studied Italian art history under the late art historian Terisio Pignatti in Venice before moving to Beijing, China in 1996 to study Chinese language, culture, and history. In 1997, he returned to the US to finish a liberal arts degree at Wake Forest University before returning to Asia where he lived for 20 years, first as a student, and shortly thereafter, as a documentary photographer. He traveled widely across the continent of Asia on photographic assignments for the New York Times, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Time, and the Far Eastern Economic Review, working primarily as a visual anthropologist, documenting the rapidly changing cultural and physical landscape of the region.
About The Work
Guariglia makes paintings dervived from photography. The works embody, on a conceptual, physical, and material level, the complexity of the Anthropocene, the age in which humankind has left its indelible mark on the face of the entire planet. Just as time - human and geologic - are features of his work, so is space. Guariglia's work challenges our ordinary experience of the environment from within, from a local and limited perspective. It insists, in the face of the global dimensions of the ways in which the human impact disrupts the life system of the Earth, on grasping a view of the whole. He takes up this challenge in an unsettling, aesthetically evocative way by starting with large-scale, extraordinarily high-resolution photos, taken from altitudes of 1,500 to 40,000 ft. Beginning in 2015, Guariglia joined NASA scientists on flights over Greenland, capturing the morphing topography of rapidly changing glacial ice sheets. An enormous all-white and yet endlessly varied surface, the glacier's scale and age embody permanence, even as Guariglia's work painfully reveals its fragility.
In order to forge an even deeper connection between the picture and the physicality of what it represents, Guariglia uses an ultra-archival printing process that enables him to create an image of incredible durability, one that could potentially endure long after the glacier and all of his other subjects are gone. Guariglia uses technology to layer acrylic that, when exposed to UV radiation, polymerizes and becomes hyper-archival. The printer becomes his paintbrush, and the process lets him radicalize and repurpose the traditional bird's eye view, moving beyond its flatness to create almost holographic images that seem to float in three dimensions. Fixed in archivally stable materials, his images of a dying planet act as fossils of our age. In Guariglia's works it is the world - seemingly eternal, its time measured in millions of years rather than the nanoseconds of the information age - whose impermanence is intensely felt.
2017 will bring, among others, a solo traveling exhibition, debuting at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida entitled: "Earth Works: Mapping The Anthropocene," and a solo show entitled After Nature at TwoThirtyOne Projects, a project space in Chelsea, New York City. Elements of this work appeared in a solo show at Lincoln Center, and a group show at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City; in previous years his work appeared in group shows at the Minnesota Center of Photography and the Museum Belvedere in the Netherlands. In 2014, Guariglia was nominated for Hong Kong's Sovereign Art Prize; in his earlier career, his documentary work was shown in solo exhibitions at the National Geographic Museum, Utah Valley University, and Otis College of Art and Design, and the Ping Yao Photography Festival, and has published monographs with Chronicle Books and the Aperture Foundation.
Guariglia will continue to explore the unstable relationship between space and time. Guariglia will be flying with the NASA/JPL Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission on flights through 2020.
“As an artist, it’s never been more important to be socially and politically engaged. Reconnecting civilization to the natural world has never been more critical. I believe that through my art, I might be able to change people by giving them the opportunity to see and experience the inaccessible and unknowable.”
“With photography suffering it’s own existential crisis, eviscerated in the age of social media, I found myself needing to pioneer new processes that deny the medium of normalization, ultimately pushing the image into the realm of painting. It is in that space where I have found the picture able to regain its power, and transcend the realistic forms it portrays.”
—Justin Brice Guariglia