APRIL 2007 FEATURED ARTIST || Thomas Gustainis

Thomas Gustainis's work often confronts and challenges our notion of what is real and fabricated, be it narrative, artistic genres, or the nature of photography itself. Featured online are selections from his series “Little Urban Landscapes,” in which he creates temporary site-specific installations using miniature landscape models, and selections from two new series in progress, “Still Life” and “Rooms.” In his work, Gustainis uses recycled materials and a variety of props as well as the language of theater, art, and commercial photography to fashion windows into peculiar worlds of his own creation—although upon closer inspection, everything is not as it appears.

Gustainis holds a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, and received his MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2003.  He has worked for the Polaroid Collections and boasts his own active commercial practice with clients such as British Petroleum and TASCHEN. Currently, he is teaching at two area schools: the New England Institute of Art, located in Brookline, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. In Massachusetts, Gustainis has shown at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln and the Yamawaki Gallery at Lasell College in Newton. He is represented in Boston by Gallery Kayafas.

- Leslie K. Brown

Click here for Gustainis ’s web site
Click here for Gustainis's gallery


Artist Statement

Photography was born from the desire to record, but as with other mediums, the impulse was elusive. Acknowledging this, my work neither confirms nor denies the seductive, or offers a pseudo-documentary reality. Instead, it illustrates the fascination we have with what we cannot see, and points to the voyeurism, escapism, and contrived fantasy that models our perception and mandates our engagements. It charges the observer to complete the context of the image: be it sexual, mundane, or contrived via synthetic dramatization.

The success of the image is about completing the unfinished narrative, the "tapping" of the threads, and the privileging of a viewer's willingness to step into what s/he can only assume is fiction and continue to suspend there disbelief of the event or moment. Much like the monster of Shelley's, the fiction should be more real than its creator.

Cultural artifacts reflect a heterogeneous ethos via the posturing of inanimate objects, signifying social, personal, and political moments germane to ones particular beliefs. Showmanship, illusion, perception, and impulse are valued components of my work and foster a "counterpart" image outside of the ones I provide. The content of the work is limited to the surface as stage--engendering fantasy, triggering memory, or producing a short story. It is a scattered, mediated vocabulary open to assimilation.

- Thomas J. Gustainis

Click on each image for larger version and caption.

Little Urban Landscapes

Still Life



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