Courtesy of Margo Vansynghel
With everything that’s been going on in the world lately, it’s more tempting than ever to move to a remote cabin somewhere in the middle of the woods and set up all the survivalist gear you can get your hands on. In his exhibition titled Loaves and Fishes at 4Culture, Seattle University’s own Francisco Guerrero expresses that impulse through intricate drawings, sculptures, and 50lb rock traps.
According to an interview in City Arts magazine, Guerrero was inspired by the idea of so-called doomsday preppers and survivalists that live on the fringes of society. While he originally intended to use an agricultural lens for his work, that approach gave way to more militaristic and even brutal imagery. All of this contributes to the sense of unease one feels walking through that gallery; it may just be an ominous portent of things to come.
The sculptures themselves were intricate and almost mesmerizing to look at. Although the forms look almost natural, on closer inspection they are more dangerous than one would ever expect. What’s more, they are fully functional as traps and “vertical gardens”, turning 4Culture’s gallery space into a survivalist’s backyard. With this exhibition, Guerrero seeks to draw attention to the different forms of violence that permeate western culture, especially considering the bigoted leanings of many prepper communities.
The brightly colored ‘spikes’ were reminiscent of some of Guerrero’s earlier work–– specifically his 2016 exhibition at Vachon Gallery, Torito + Castillos, which featured security cameras spray painted in neon colors, drawing attention to those things that we usually ignore.
The most interesting pieces in this exhibition, though, were the pencil drawings of a pre-Columbian rain god in the midst of growing corn. Using the Greek geometry that fascinates many of what Guerrero calls “Western military guys,” he brings the rain god into awe-inspiring living color. Looking at it, one can see the patterns as military formations ready to do battle.
Francisco Guerrero has been a painter for decades, and has taught drawing and painting for over 15 years. Previously, much of his work has been painting but per his interview with City Arts, “Making objects is much more satisfying.” At Seattle University he is an Associate Professor in Studio Arts, an advisor for ArtSideOut, and the founding director of the Seattle University Visual Artist in Residence program. Those who take his classes can attest to the fact that he is an excellent artist and instructor, and can make drawing the same thing again and again feel fresh and fun. If you get the chance, you should definitely try and take a class with Francisco Guerrero––you’ll be glad you did.
You can find more of Guerrero’s work at francguerrero.com.
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