By Sean Scully
I first saw Guggi in the Merrion hotel in its fine and sumptuous lounges. He immediately
attracted my attention because he looked like a wolf interested in jazz. I asked
Ken who that dude was and my friend Ken said that dude is a painter. The painters
I an accustomed to rubbing shoulders with in New York and Germany look like Buddhists
or plumbers; but they don't look like rock stars or jazz wolves. That was all I knew
of it until much later, some years or so, when I met him up close and we spoke. Then
I saw that the outside of him and the inside of him, which I saw into; were doing
two different things. I took a photograph of him once. In this portrait he has the
eyes of a deer, and since I believe that the eyes are indeed, as painters say, the
windows to the soul, I concluded that he was interesting. Since this deer was wearing
snakeskin shoes, I was touched. There was, I believed, and believe, a fragile soul
inside the charming extrovert. We were both born in Dublin and we both had it hard.
And avoiding playing the extremely worn out 'blame card' it's fair enough to say
we were 'hurt into art'. So of course I can see this when I see another, and then
I'm connected. When asked what painting is I have various answers, but when asked
about its difficulty I would say its like pushing a dead horse up a hill. Because
after you've done it, you still have to convince people it was an interesting thing
to do. How to make the inert wake up, the Holy Ghost, as the prince, finds the sleeping
princess and in the forest he kisses her. She wakes and is radiant . Perhaps it is
this, with the discipline of work and criticism . Picasso says 'it takes everything'.
And he is right. After all, he was a towering genius, so he must know something.
I have found in my life that nearly everything is very far from everything. The inertness
of the material of paint. It's lack of technological interaction and assistance,
all makes it difficult and humble. The silence of it makes it a slow communicator,
but ultimately this is its power and permanence. It seeps into the culture of an
art lover, and it stays there. The inness of painting is its weakness and its sanctity.
Painting is, when it is Guggi's kind, Jane Austen's Kiss. In her world, the kiss
is held back. And yet it is backed up by a wave of emotion and delicate regard that
it can be felt and not seen. Guggi has entered the world of fragile painting . So
it is a visual reality that is hard to see. The restraint in the paintings, is born
out of reverence. And it wants to provoke reverence. And this is the problem. This
is the hope. It is the hope and the longing that stands behind Jane Austen's kiss.
Where a tidal wave of love and sensibility stands piled up in frozen admiration
behind a kiss that is never completed . What goes on between people is what she describes.
And the eloquent craft that she brings to her subject, confers on it dignity . William
Carlos Williams writes that it is love that keeps the stars in their place in the
heavens. It is only love that maintains the space between them. All the worlds romantics
know that it is self evident. And so does Guggi. Guggi though chose the difficulty
not only of painting but the double difficulty of painting that is self-