Astoria photographer turns destruction into works of art

Astoria photographer turns destruction into works of art
By Allison Plitt

Astoria resident Jean-Marie Guyaux, a commercially successful photographer who has a studio in Long Island City, has taken photos that have appeared in some of the most popular publications in the country as well in theatrical posters and advertisements.

When he photographs on an artistic level, he takes pictures of destroyed objects that evoke visceral emotions and, from another perspective, can be seen as images of beauty.

Guyaux was born and raised in Belgium.

“In my teens flying was my passion and I photographed everything I saw which was connected to aviation,” Guyaux said.

After starting college in Brussels, he found work in that city as a studio intern where he studied film photography.

When Guyaux turned 19, he began experimenting with photography under the guidance of a photographer friend. Shortly thereafter, he moved to New York City to study photography at the School of Visual Arts. With the dream of becoming a fashion photographer, Guyaux assisted various photographers for about three years. His first assignment finally came from Harper’s Bazaar to shoot one picture that paid him $75.

“The world around me thought I had hit the jackpot,” he said, “not exactly!”

For those interested in pursuing photography as a career, Guyaux offered some advice.

“One should get a job as assistant/intern for a respected and established photographer so as to absorb as much as possible about technique, style and business acumen,” Guyaux said.

What Guyaux has become well-known for in the art world are his pictures of destruction — crashed cars, slashed subway posters, and, most arrestingly, glass broken by gunshots.

Following last year’s incident when a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., the artist’s gunshot series of photos called “Shatter” was included in an exhibit at an art gallery in Washington, D.C.

The gallery wanted the exhibit, titled “A Call to Arms: The Newtown Project,” to honor those teachers and children killed in the shooting and to provoke the government to enforce stricter gun control laws. Guyaux had his own vision of the “Shatter” series, observing “the spider-like beauty of shattered glass is a visual symbol of the fragility separating the past from the present… Yet, unbeknownst to us a single puff of rage combined with the repulsive tools of hurt is all it will take to violate our cocoon, shatter its surface and ultimately invade our bubble.”

The nonsensical violence of mankind could possibly explain Guyaux’s own source of inspiration as he says, “I am inspired by the oddity of the world that surrounds me.”

He is currently searching for a curator to mount a group exhibition “devoted to the denunciation of various forms of violence.” The suggested artists will present works in mediums such as sculpture, video, painting and photography.

In November Guyaux will be exhibiting at the Loft 594 Gallery in Bushwick and will be presenting a series of photos of abandoned umbrellas displayed in various positions of disarray on rainy streets. Guyaux titled the umbrella photos “Crush,” which are as emotively compelling as his gunshot photos.

To viewers, Guyaux seems to ask, “The umbrella, an object used for protection, carelessly tossed into the storm and lying splayed open like some road kill evoke feeling of loss, loneliness, anger and violence. Could it be akin to some of humanity’s accidental destiny?”

To learn more about Jean-Marie Guyaux and his artwork, you can visit his website at www.jmguyauxphoto.com or contact him at jmguyaux@gmail.com.