I see Haculla all over town. It peeks at me from plastered walls. It is irreverent street art, the type of thing that has me walking the streets of NYC. When the iconic images popped up last September in that club that I adore, Don Hills, a certain tone was set. Something new was going to happen.Harif Guzman was tasked to set that tone at this too-cool joint where Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny held court. Gone was the Sailor Jerry tattoo motif art that had adorned the walls of the first incarnation of Don Hill’s—a legendary spot where every act had played. A new generation of rockers are now hitting the stage, alongside many of the old ones, as well. Harif’s collages assured the new generation of creatures-of-the-night that they were in the right place.
Harif has an opening this week, and the in-the-knows will know all about it, and attend. They’ll experience the old and new. I caught up with him at the gallery and chatted.
Tell me about the show. How have you come to this new work style? You use moving lights and an animatronic horse? The whole light concept came about when I wanted to have one painting with hidden color, and three or five different emotions. By programming the intensity of light it lets the same image convert into an intense or soothing image. Adding black light to it reavealsl different shades of white on top of white, and texture that would not be seen by regular light. So one simple drawing has many scenarios.The animatronic horse sculpture is an installation I created called “Wild Horses” which is a raged-out, drunk, drugged-out horse inspired by the Trojan Horse. I plan to build 15 of them, all 13 feet high and in certain order, making wild movement and noises set off by motion sensors.Their fur will also be colored, and special lighting will be added as well.
Tell me about the sculpture with all the objects. The sculpture with all the found objects on the table is called “20 Years of Apartments.” It’s basically a recollection of all the stuff my mom picked up at garage sales and flea markets, and put up around house. I encompassed them all into one, gluing them down on a table with candle holders, to create a shrine-like feel
Tell me how your work at Don Hills came to be, and what feeling were you trying to create? My work at Don Hills came to be by Nur Khan asking me to create something with “downtown feeling,” which he felt I could do after visiting my studio several times. The feeling I was trying to create was an early ’90’s feeling, staying away from the over-priced super luxury feel that most clubs/bars that were opening up where doing. I wanted a downtown punk rock, rock n’ roll, hip hop vibe that would take in all sorts of street culture and accommodate them at the same time. I dosed them with sex, and a series of mixed-collage work of iconic photographs that I blended into an erotic/scary fantasy world.
I see you out everywhere. Why? What are you seeing in nightlife? I see a big change in nightlife. The days of Bungalow 8 and clubs like that have passed. It’s a new generation of fast information, cell phones, and texting. These things have changed the way we communicate, as well the the way we access places. I think people are smarter now than before, and more aware that it can’t ever be a private party every night! They won’t try to get into a place to be turned away.
What is Haculla? Haculla came about because of one simple reason: I have no fucking idea why people couldn’t say Harif. My best friend, Harold Hunter would call me HA, and everyone started calling me HA. It stuck. Then I was watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and started obsessing over it, and talking too much about it. My friend, once again, started calling me Haculla, and I was homeless at the time, so I started writing it everywhere on the streets, and the rest is history.
Are you over the starving artist phase? Is that cool anymore? AN ARTIST IS ALWAYS STARVING. IF YOU GOTTA ASK YOU DONT KNOW!
How do you objectively analyze your work? I either like it, or I don’t. Different moods, different styles, different stages of life my life. I have relationships with my paintings and works. Like old lovers you look at them, and either smile or you don’t. That’s how I analyze my work.
Are you Banksy?