Ian Maguire and his gestural abstractions explore the human condition through a candid look at his own life—both past and present. His work channels deeply personal emotions and memories through a process which is physical, spontaneous and improvised in manner. Through many layers of addition and subtraction, Ian throws, slashes, drips and drags paint across the canvas only to remove parts of it through a mixture of sanding, scraping, and erasing only to repeat the process countless times over revealing the life cycle of the canvas beneath. Though his work is deeply personal and tireless, the frenetic brushwork and clashes of color and space invites the viewer to experience their own emotional reaction and discover different interpretations and meanings throughout the canvas.
Ian’s first professional exhibition, a solo show which was recently showcased at the Center for Spiritual Care in Vero Beach, is a culmination of years of both self-taught drawing and painting and a more structured and formal art education. Early on, he came to the attention of artist and educator Roe Halper who mentored him in the form ofprivate weekly classes grounded in painting and design from his early teens through high school. Maguire says, “Roe made us understand that we were not just aiming to be artists, but that we were already artists.” It was upon meeting her that he would discover Joan Mitchell and the first and second generation abstract expressionists that would inspire his work. “For years it seemed Joan Mitchell was like my personal secret,” he says. “None of my friends seemed to know anything about her but for me she became almost an obsession."
Committed to abstract expressionism, Maguire went on to refine his painting skills at Alfred University before finishing his undergraduate work at Manhattan’s Pace University, closer to the art scene and the many galleries and artist studios. While residing in New York City, his creative inhibitions found him performing stand-up comedy at various comedy clubs, writing the screenplay “Among the Cotton Trees” for a feature-length independent film based on the Congolese Civil War, performing and developing as a singer-songwriter, and continuously working on his memoir “Wasted Hours with Dying Flowers.”
Several years later he would move to Vero Beach, Florida to be near his family and by chance came into contact with esteemed painter Tim Sanchez who would soon become his mentor. “Tim started to critique my work in 2018,” Maguire says, “and I feel as if I’ve made ten year’s worth of progress since then. It’s as if a door had opened within me.” Reflecting on his newfound change in his work since meeting Sanchez, he continues, “I approach the canvas now in a very distinct way. Somehow I reached a new gear over this past year that has allowed me to completely change the feel of my painting. My work seems to be a new apex of everything I’ve learned with regard to technique and form, allowing each piece to go through dozens of iterations before I am ever satisfied with its completion.” When one views Maguire’s work, they will immediately see the many layers and contrasting parts that come together to create an overall harmony full of energy and emotion. “I like paintings where you can see the history and the struggle that have gone into them. To me that signifies growth,” he says.
The separation between Maguire’s life and his artwork is indistinguishable. He paints every day, all day and late into the night. While working on a particular piece that is a reaction to his current state of being, he allows the canvas to essentially paint his own reflection while he paints the canvas itself. Though he primarily paints non-objectively, he has no preconceived rules or ideas to limit jump-starting the initial process, allowing each piece to organically come to fruition. He sometimes begins with an emotion or memory associated with an object or location to help him judge his color palette and where his forms might take him. Ian says, “Certain color combinations contain within them for me not flowers themselves, but the ideas and memories of certain flowers.” Maguire’s work is light, dark, both whimsical and serious but always with a certain tension which makes his audience take a look, and then another, to resonate in whatever feelings or things that they see throughout these abstractions.