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John Guzman, Would you like it hot or cold, 2021, oil on canvas, 60 x 96 in. Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York. © John Guzman

John Guzman: Flesh and Bone


June 23—September 24, 2023

The Blaffer Art Museum is honored to present the first solo museum exhibition of work by artist John Guzman (b. 1984). Flesh and Bone focuses on works produced in the artist’s hometown of San Antonio and the Texas debut of paintings completed during, and immediately following, time at the NXTHVN Studio Fellowship Program in New Haven, Connecticut.

As a spectator to claustrophobic psychological and physical states growing up in San Antonio's Southside, Guzman's monumental paintings are a byproduct of experiences, recordings, and environmental reflections. The artist abstracts the human figure to reflect the harm endured by the body, and the unrecognizable transformation brought on by years of punishment, addiction, relapse, and self-destruction.

Through large-scale paintings, Guzman assembles distorted, tangled, and deteriorated figures confined in cramped domestic spaces, concealing their behaviors from others and themselves. He layers heavily textured brush strokes to cut and gouge out a dizzying carnage of disfigured hands, feet, knees, and teeth enmeshed and mangled into new beings. Using a palette of muted colors and dark lines, the pummeling mutilation of the human body creates a visual language for the condition of existence continuing to prevail at the edge of barely living.

A markedly distinct spatial shift emerges in more recent works, pointing to its link between the environment and its inhabitants in the artist's exploration of new space, styles, subject matter, and attention to simple lines. Working in Connecticut, the artist continues to explore biomorphic forms, yet addresses the fragility and interiority of the psyche and altered landscapes. Throughout the work, Guzman visualizes inexpressible yet consequential conditions of suffering and, in so doing, articulates a departure from cyclical patterns of self-destruction becoming his own reality.


John Guzman: Flesh and Bone is co-organized by Rigoberto Luna, independent curator, and Erika Mei Chua Holum, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Assistant Curator at the Blaffer Art Museum.

Major annual funding is provided by Leslie & Brad Bucher, the Stolbun Family Foundation, and the John P. McGovern Foundation. Generous annual support is provided by Ingrid Arneberg, Sarah C. Morian & Michael Clark, Andrew & Robin Schirrmeister, and Blaffer Art Museum Advisory Board members. The following donors sustain Blaffer Art Museum in perpetuity by giving through endowments: Cecil Amelia Blaffer von Furstenberg Endowment for Exhibitions and Programs, Jane Dale Owen Endowment in the Blaffer Art Museum, Jo & Jim Furr Exhibition Endowment in the Blaffer Art Museum, Sarah C. Morian Endowment, and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Blaffer Gallery Endowment.

Exhibition Images