How Does Painter Jennifer Guidi Get in the Zone? The Artist Describes Her Studio Rituals Ahead of a Solo Presentation at Frieze

We checked in with the Los Angeles-based artist about how she keeps her focus.

Jennifer Guidi. Photo: Alexandra Arthur.
Jennifer Guidi. Photo: Alexandra Arthur.

Jennifer Guidi knows how to focus. The Los Angeles artist is known for creating radiant, mandala-like paintings with undulating colors and bursts of line. Works from her latest series, “Painted Universe Mandalas,” will make their public debut this week in a solo presentation by Gagosian at Frieze London.

To create the works, Guidi covers raw canvas with an even coat of sand and then paints thin oil washes and line drawings on top. “They are about creating space and mood through color,” the artist said. “I think of them as a celebration of life after a dark time—a dark time of the pandemic where nature was a main source of consolation.”

Ahead of the series’ debut at Frieze, we checked in with Guidi about life in her Los Angeles studio.

 

What are the most indispensable items in your studio and why?

Paint, sand, brushes, palette knives, mineral spirits, linseed oil, and canvas—without these things I wouldn’t be able to make my work.

Is there a picture you can send of your work in progress?

Works in progress. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Guidi studio.

Works in progress. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Guidi studio

What is the studio task on your agenda tomorrow that you are most looking forward to?

I only have one task for tomorrow. I am in the middle of painting the marks on a large Painted Universe Mandala, so I will be working on that painting.

What kind of atmosphere do you prefer when you work? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence? Why?

I usually listen to music while I work. I listen to hip hop. I feed off of the energy of the music and it keeps me going. However, during the last week or so I started listening to audio books, which I do from time to time. Right now I am listening to The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. Listening to books doesn’t provide the same uplifting energy as music does for me, but if I’m searching for knowledge in particular books I can get into a deep place of concentration which helps me stay in a meditative zone.

Guidi's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist

Guidi’s studio. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Guidi studio

What trait do you most admire in a work of art? What trait do you most despise?

I admire when a work of art feels fresh and genuine… work that feels like the artist has found their voice. I guess I despise the exact opposite of what I admire.

What snack food could your studio not function without?

Dates, cashews, and coffee.

Guidi’s works in the studio. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Guidi studio

Who are your favorite artists, curators, or other thinkers to follow on social media right now? 

There are too many to list. I follow so many talented people! Visual artists, curators, writers, architects, chefs, fashion designers, dancers, interior designers, musicians, etc. The thing I love about following all of these people is that we are all contributing to this huge melting pot of creativity. I love the energy, connection, and inspiration that is shared through social media.

Another work in progress at Guidi’s studio. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Guidi studio

When you feel stuck in the studio, what do you do to get un-stuck?

I roller skate.

What is the last exhibition you saw (virtual or otherwise) that made an impression on you? 

David Hammons at Bourse de Commerce in Paris.

Guidi's studio setup. Photo courtesy of the artist

Guidi’s studio setup. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Guidi studio

If you had to put together a mood board, what would be on it right now?

Pictures of sunsets, mountains, seascapes, chakra charts, illustrations of meditation and moon phases, antique celestial maps, postcards of Monet water lilies and Caspar David Friedrich mountain and sunset paintings.


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