This fall, the AGO launches Art Bash, a new annual gala that pays homage to history’s most celebrated art parties. Inspired by these fêtes, the spirit of which lives on in the riveting works of the AGO Collection, the first annual (and now sold-out) Art Bash takes place on November 18.
For the first edition, think pop art spectacle extravaganza. Art Bash: The Factory will bring to life the themes of Andy Warhol and his New York City Factory studio into the AGO: disruption, innovation and artistic radicalism. But almost more exciting than the event itself is the factory of artists the Bash is bringing together to present inspired work.
One of these artists is photographer Mathew Guido (or @mathewguido on Instagram), who creates hauntingly beautiful portraits illustrating the complexities of human emotion. The work featured at Art Bash will be part of Guido’s latest series, Eye Candy, in which he shoots his model wearing sunglasses in dark environments lit only by neon and street lights. The resulting images are futuristic yet contemporary, bathed in the vibrant neon light from nighttime cityscapes.
We spoke to Mathew to learn more about the inspiration behind this project and to get his thoughts on Warhol and pop culture.
AGO: Where did the inspiration for Eye Candy come from?
Mathew: The inspiration for this series takes place at the intersection of Rembrandt lighting and the fantasy world of anime. I really wanted to push the limits of light and colour in this series but in a way that felt real and not over-produced.
AGO: What draws you to using light so centrally in your photography?
Mathew: I’ve had many experiences in my life where I felt absorbed into darkness, and in those times I really was able to understand on an emotional level, how precious and beautiful light can be. Due to that connection, I developed a special relationship with light that allows me to paint with it and tell a story. Madeline L’Engle said, “You have to understand the darkness to appreciate the light.”
AGO: For your Eye Candy series, do you create these neon light nightscapes yourself or are they existing places? If the latter, where did you find them?
Mathew: One of the essential elements to keep that realistic feeling in this series came from using this lighting approach, where instead of creating these colours synthetically in studio or in post-production, I used neon signage from actual restaurants in Toronto’s Chinatown which added a lot of character. I was able to walk through a neon rainbow and mix and match tones as much as I wanted.
AGO: What are the cultural inspirations that influence the aesthetics of Eye Candy? Were there any pieces of film, music, literature or other artworks that you thought of when creating the series?
Mathew: One of the constant inspirations for me in this shoot was the movie The Fifth Element, directed by Luc Besson. I kept thinking to myself, “What would another character from that world look like if the movie was reproduced today?” Other inspirations that come to mind are from the planet Coruscant in the Star Wars’ universe, as well as the character Asaaj Ventress, the Dathomirian assassin.
AGO: What do you think of when you think of Pop art?
I think of Andy Warhol and being inspired by the movement, which to me means reproducing and creating from everything around us. It’s very much tied to the approach I took with the lighting used in Eye Candy. Sampling the lighting from the advertisements and neon signage around me was my own way of channeling the essence of pop art.
You can also check out this video directed by 3rdeye a.k.a. Manolo, which shows you a bit about Mathew’s artistic process:
Art Bash: The Factory will raise important funds that enable the AGO to present the very best in art through a diverse and captivating collection and exhibitions program, to engage audiences in transformative experiences of learning and discovery, and to reduce and remove barriers to improve access for all visitors. Stay tuned as we take you behind the scenes of the party and more artist projects!
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