John Waguespack Deconstructs Hollywood -  Fabrik Magazine - January 2012

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Painter John Waguespack is the consummate outsider artist. A former  ad agency creative director, he hasn’t looked back since opting out of his day job to pursue a full time painting  career . Waguespack’s second solo show, “Deconstructing Hollywood,”   is set for  December at  the esteemed Mcgloughlin Gallery  at 49 Geary.

Testament to his ability, Waguespack scored an uncharacteristic early break. Through a twist of fate, with nominal nepotism, manipulation or  publicity  John landed his first solo show a year ago when he  caught the eye of gallerist Joan Mcloughlin of her namesake gallery in the heart of SF. She was so impressed she offered him a solo show, despite his  thin  resume.

Asked about his comfort level with being known as an outsider artist, and being removed from the art establishment pecking order, Waguespack  offers a solemn confidence, “I was burnt out as the creative director at an ad agency, and after painting part time. Then I  just realized that in order to do it seriously I had to devote myself to it full time.

 “Its been a strength in many ways. I have a business background and a healthy client base, so Im attuned to the rigors of business and sustaining myself, Im also not governed by the institutional mentality. I see many other artists from the institutionalized background really struggling to survive, I don’t know how they are enduring the recession. “

Johns says his hearty work ethic is also a crucial factor. “ Im happy working excessive hours when he’s focusing on finishing a painting or a series. I realized that in order to improve as a painter I had to devote myself to it fulltime - Embodying a vibrant color pallet  and  using a linear form of deconstruction, with oil on canvas as his dominant medium,  Waguespack’s new series, Deconstructing Hollywood,”  created in LA in summer 2011, examines LA, its people and iconography. It reflects on the stark contrasts between California’s north and south both in terms of personality and geography.

“In this series I deconstructed and reconstructed people and images. I deconstructed them to understand what they looked like on an atomic level and I reconstructed them to understand what parts made up of a whole. These two directions were artistically in complete opposition. Mechanical reconstruction was technically precise and was an attempt to reconstruct imagery like people do digitally everyday, but through a fine arts application.”

“Essentially its about my time in Hollywood. Not just the ethos of celebrity but the geography and its personality. The series also serves as a commentary on the people of LA.”

He adds, “on a personal level, Its harder to connect with people in Los Angeles San Francisco is smaller, the people are more indoor based, and Los Angeles has such great weather, promoting people to get outside yet oddly those in Los Angeles connect less. I found it bizarre  how little Angelenos interact and meet new people , I think the weather makes it easier to work in LA and the climate is its key appeal. “

“Another piece in the series, called SAG card is inspired by the notion of people’s  desperation to sell themselves in Hollywood . Many people will do anything to make it there. The subject in the painting  looks like an Orwell character, with a kind of militant conspiratorial air  Its constructed from soup can images.” In another from the Deconstructing Hollywood series, John makes reference to an image of Twiggy and actress Carey Mulligan. 

In the new series, Waguespack also observed LA landscapes  and portrayed them  by deconstructing them   as  if they are barely there minimalist images. He says the work is a reaction to obsession with evolving technology and the digital age. “It harks back to minimalism and the concept of  an old school approach.”

John says the key source of inspiration for this style was a happy accident while using a printer.  “ My printer ran out of ink and I noticed the images  were broken down in a linear format. I decided it would be fun to experiment with that idea with paint.”

“I opted to keep using and push the boundaries of iconography, breaking things down again and again via linear abstraction. The paintings are made up simply of lines  the same way they might be if you created them using a computer. Instead of the process taking 15 minutes, it takes a few hours .”

“The new series  uses with five or six styles and is the culmination of reassessment and experimentation. On a technical level the works are created using a mathematical base , the process sees  me reinterpret a digital image  and sequester it into a new environment.”

Deconstructing Hollywood embodies a color pallet that stirs the emotions   with 24 pieces in the series. Waguespack says, prior to his current series he was more entrenched in political work inspired by the chaos and controversy of 911. “It was an odd time and I felt a strange sense of alienation witnessing it all from the comfort of a TV in San Francisco.”

Asked about his key influences, Waguespack is decidedly apologetic, concerned about them being potentially cliched, her mentions Warhol and Dali .”I see parallels between Warhol’s life and my own. I can relate to how his life evolved and changed the artworld. John’s advertising background underscores these parallels.  I think like Dali – but not in such traditional forms.”