Critical essays


by Adelina Cuberyan Von Fürstenberg

Our personal history, place and circumstances give the expression tools to the artist, and they also reveal to him the secrets and the reasons behind his language choice.

Guerraz, in particular, uses painting and three-dimensional artworks to highlight the poetry in anyone’s imagination. The challenge in his artwork doesn’t consist in representing reality, but in trying to interpret it and communicate with it, and to contrast its resistance.

Guerraz starting point is everyday life. The artist uses images, shapes and scraps of reality in his paintings and multi-coloured sculptures to create a bond with the everyday life, specially addressed to our innermost desires.

Guerraz’s scope doesn’t consist in giving life to his inner visions, but in giving rise to a new experience starting from everyday life, through its transformation. The same happens for his artworks’ titles, which are archetypes conveying to the art work original status, along with his artistic concerns.

The title is a tool, expression, complicity and vehicle, suggestion and reflection, and still an integral part of his artwork: Equilibrium, Breaths, Upturned, Wait, Talk, Acrobat, Stairs…

The world around us sounds so familiar that we have stopped watching it. To become aware of its hidden dimension, we need to view it from a distance, and above all to reinterpret it.


PANTA REI: Present Conditional of the Verb Desire

by Miriam Castelnuovo

“Who ties knots, Who unties knots, Who gives himself, Who refuses, Who hunts for, Who finds, Who hands himself out, Who feeds himself.”

Nicola Guerraz works set an ironic sentimental synthesis, as well as presenting a prescience of everyday behaviour. He is neither a philosopher, nor a psychologist, nor a literature professor. Guerraz was born as a “man of letters”*, but he lives today as a “man of art”, for and with his art. He is able to make a hit, to catch any audience’s look – an audience that, when faced with his works, can go beyond a mere aesthetic evaluation.

Guerraz’s artwork, mostly painted on canvas, but also on wood and different metals, reinterprets his own playful language by resurfacing his background, while keeping, whenever and wherever, his only constant: positivity. For this reason, the audience doesn’t perceive the constraint of an intrusive analysis of artist’s ego in his works, instead he is intrigued by his message, and he feels something different.

Guerraz indeed leaves the audience free to interpret the word games and to associate the literary double meanings, which animate his entire artwork. As in “Don’t leave me alone!” where a cry full of regret echoes back deeply to the audience, together with the wish to reaffirm the right sense of this socially cracked cliché “Leave me alone”. Words become, in their own turn, as Guerraz himself would say, “Art to nth degree”, manipulated on canvas.

The flaming quartz-acrylic red is bright and triumphs over the resilience of matter, to solve a mental rebus and to overturn some content of lives spent in dangerous mediocrity: Nothing can be defined forever, anything can change. This is what leads Guerraz’s will to stress why verba volant. As the graffiti scratched forever, black on white, white on white, red on acid green, colour after colour, matter after matter, the letters painted on canvas or other material form essential sentences, which otherwise would become deafening.

That’s why Guerraz has a predilection for a classic, but still modern lexicon, as for the Latin, extremely topical in his painting “Sine solem sileo”, or the aulic “Fate is strong, but love is stronger” which could be referred to the Shakespearian’s Hamlet passionate agony in “To be or not to be, that is the question”. English, Latin, French quotes used by Guerraz according to his personal criterion, and always imbued with a fair, but never dull, irony are playfully opposed to the pure intellectual context as the pages of a volume, where he tells about himself by drawing from the language heritage of the past two thousand years.

The artist’s thinking moves between metaphor and experience, impressing on all his works that sense of temporariness and fugacity, as opposed to his instinctive capacity to attract that necessary and uncompromising tension and energy, which represent the irrepressible vital lymph of his entire production. His scope is to bring into play one’s personal perception capacity, stressing the differences, in nuce, between objectivity and subjectivity, inner and outer life, game and reality. It’s a common, open, and lively reflection which also manages to break through the barrier between art and life.

He deeply loves nature, and through his art he tries to be part of the habitat where nature gives pleasure and grows in all her spontaneous beauty. The artist realises very coloured paintings on vulcanized rubber, he organizes abstract paths as a sort of inner labyrinth, a ” day-by-day memo” in which we can get lost, only for the pleasure to find ourselves again. Guerraz works on iron, steel, copper and he realizes other “three-dimensional labyrinths” to which the artist applies his verbal brand, as a synthetic identification mark, to reaffirm the origin of his work.

All Guerraz’s artwork can be traced back through a pure chromatic evaluation through time: The red period, the yellow period, the (acid) green period, as well as the silver and golden sections. As for the colours, Guerraz has a predilection for some recurrent topics: First of all there is the chili pepper, represented in many possible shapes, chromatic shades or poses, as if he were describing human beings.

The chili pepper, spicy hot par excellence, represents for Guerraz the symbol of energy and sensuality, as well as a way to show the capacity of his art to stimulate imagination through irony, deformation, exaggeration, and the repetition of the same topic. But in his production we can also find more introspective topics, like the sculptural representations of two staircases supporting each other without fusing together, just like some love sentences, coming together through a single stream of passion, represented by pure matter of colour, energetically molded by the artist and climbing on a double path to fuse on the top.

Guerraz defines his art as “baroque but essential at one time, where more is always less”. All his art works seduce with their variety and richness in inventions, from the informal “Cells in Love” consisting of two bright red canvases, swarming with burning bubbles to represent an erupting volcano. The Volcano is one of the most loved topics for the artist, as it represents the natural phenomenon able to destroy matter and make it revive in other shapes.

Guerraz main mark is nothing more than a fil rouge of an intermittent current; he shows how the pictorial matter, as a pure means, can also become a lively and organic matter as the artist works with it. Geometric supports where “Underwater Poetry” sentences animate themselves, in an unreadable, but touchable total “Mental Braille” to celebrate the bicentenary of the alphabet, a direct hommage to the genius of Professor Braille.

As Guerraz says “even a black hole can be white!”, and even if he has always denied any commitment to the social critique or accusational power of the images, he apparently picks his topics on a random basis and submits them to an ideal transformation, and by depriving them of any qualitative connotation or definition, results in making them more influential than they were first assumed in his mind.

We could say that the topics appear to annul themselves in their playful repetition, from which Guerraz, by means of the irony, can extract and show their intimate reality: therefore the images do not refer only to what they portray, but they are determinant of their own essence. All his production can be traced back to a fil rouge: the optimism of true feelings, where everything is part of an extremely functional system, where the game is the unique, real protagonist, a capable solver compared to the common, collective attitudes.

Guerraz unconsciously builds a myth based on his thoughts: he seems on the verge of saying something definitive, but then he steps back, like the materials on which he molds his own thoughts, which happens to be never enough. He is ironic, sometimes he seeks refuge in the fetishism of symbolic topics, faking shallowness and inability to express a critical judgment on what he represents. In fact, he is a very sensitive artist, muc like a poet, he exhibits his artwork to his audience, but he is very jealous of the creative moments in which the art work was born like the spurting lava of his volcanoes: he fears that his memory can be confused with posterity impressions, as well as with the critics’ words.

Therefore Guerraz, with the simplicity of an artist and literate craftsman, endorses a passionate promise to fix in his artwork all the temporariness, uncertainty and contingency which consumes his own life. Guerraz doesn’t intend teaching or seeking for maxims that help to regulate his own or other people’s existence. And while “Everything is in flux” around us, he just thinks about how to pick up microscopic instants of lives in movement; but at a stage when it’s too early to also think about dealing with their possible consequences.
* Definition of “man of letters” (for the corresponding Italian word Letterato n.d.t.) as given by Zingarelli’s Italian Dictionary: one who studies and knows literature not as science but as art, and makes himself a work of art.