By Olimpia Bellan
Behind the art of Guido Duty Gorn
Deconstructed faces, fragmented realities reverberate in infinite spaces with an explosion of colour. Guido Duty Gorn’s brushstrokes take the viewer beyond the rational sphere to otherworldly surreal frequencies.
Your art is often centred on feminine figures and bold colours. What led you to develop this aesthetic?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been charmed by the pop colours of the society around me. For me colour is an abstraction of reality, it drives my mind elsewhere, it captivates me, it makes me feel like a soul running away from darkness. My works are not just women’s faces, they are the result of an inner dialogue, an abstraction of meaning from my personality that attempts to dialogue in a sort of self-portrait. Painting means accessing a deep part of my being, beyond awareness and consciousness, a creative trance that allows me to heal and move on.
Your source of inspiration?
I follow paths, visions of the mind that I sometimes experience in my dreams, sometimes I live in my daily life: people I meet, but also newspaper cut-outs. I continuously take notes, fragments and details, glimpses of what surrounds me. I am inspired by Suprematism, Surrealism and Futurism. In my works I celebrate some artists of the past who have influenced me with great energy, such as Malevich, Francis Bacon, Rosenquist and Depero. My path is rooted in street art, but it evolves on the canvas in a sort of infinite space that is self-generating and that I can shape, separate and recompose, superimposing emotions, vibrations and colours to my own liking.
What is your creative process?
To me, the aesthetics come first and foremost. Being creative means accepting, exploring, but also being hard on myself, because there are no random lines and nuances in my way of living and expressing my art. The lines are precise as if I were drawing them with a ruler and the nuances are caresses that I lay on the canvas. The whole canvas, whether it is single or disassembled and reassembled, must have the right importance for the eye, its own balance.
What’s behind your art?
The passion for works of art has come with time. I spent nearly ten years painting graffiti, I was looking for my own style through the search for the perfect form of every single letter, which would allow me to express it through the cryptic language of street works. The subjective context changes, but the matter is the same. Now I paint faces and look for a soul that lies behind, I seek a visual dialogue with the audience, made of lines and colour, energy and emotion, I leave them a question rather than an answer, hidden in the attractive aesthetics of the work…almost as if playing hide and seek.
How visually thirsty are you?
I love this question, because it seems that today the world is more hungry than thirsty, visually speaking. The world seems to devour every image, graphic, colour, photograph or painting with rapacious hunger, as if art was something to be consumed quickly, quickly and still “hot”, in a sort of wild binge.
When I paint, compose and express my art, I often take a step back, sometimes one sideways, I observe what I create and its evolution, as well as before the works of those who came before me, savouring, sipping and tasting every detail, nuance and brushstroke. The work, like all art, must be tasted, savoured in small sips, although the thirst is great.
What’s next for Guido Duty Gorn?
Over the last year, I enjoyed the opportunity to work on a project basis – a brand selected me to create their corporate museum. Working with them, I created paths within the company through past and future, blending art and design, installations, videos, and a large train wall painted with my faces. This work gave me opportunities to showcase my work and have it promoted. Consequently, it triggered a series of mechanisms where people began to follow me and become interested in my work.
I’m going through an extremely creative phase, focusing mainly on creating new artworks. I have not limited my work to portraits, I’ve also created abstract and deconstructed works. I am involved in different projects, such as creating large works on walls for urban redevelopment projects. I am very excited about this, because my artworks will become an integral part of the city. I am working on new pieces for a one-man exhibition, a journey ranging from graffiti to portraits, videos, NFTs, and more. Yet what I most look forward to is having an exhibition in every city in the world, being able to collaborate with artists, and living through art in all its forms.
What led you to the name “Duty Gorn”?
As I mentioned before, my path began with graffiti, I started painting in ’95. I was still a teenager with baggy clothes and headphones on my ears. I only listened to Wu Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Nas, NWA, EPMD, just to name a few. I initially signed my work with the alias “Gorn.” A few years later I found out that he was a character in a Star Trek series, so I wanted to change my name and decided to call myself “Duty”. From that moment on, at the beginning of the year 2000, I entered this new world. In Italy, the European graffiti style had established itself, so “Duty” began to portray my new identity, through new lines, new colours, a reborn form of expression, different from the “old” Gorn, who was now working on “wild style”. Needless to say, I’ve often found myself at an artistic crossroads, having to choose which path to take to best represent my being and my living art. My instinct told me that I had to separate myself from the way I was familiar with and do something else, so I invented a new name and a new form for my art. Finally, after a few years of stylistic evolution, I integrated my new being with my old identity to form a new union, and my name became “Duty Gorn”. I can say that the same happened to my works, the same personal evolution that was expressed in my art, in the fundamental passage of evolution from graffiti to painting on canvas. The powerful link is evolution, constant and powerful change. We are not forced to do the same thing for years, trapped in a compulsion to repeat constantly, thank God we are able to stop, start again and improve ourselves… always.