The sound of a buzzing chainsaw may make you think back to those post-storm days with sweaty men felling hurricane-damaged trees, but one south Louisiana artist may have you appreciating that sound in a new way. To Kelly Guidry—and his admirers—the sound of a chainsaw is music to the ears. Guidry is a sculptor that goes way beyond the ordinary artist’s repertoire of chisel and mallet when creating unique works that appeal to young and old, beginner and experienced collector.
With finesse and a delicacy, words not usually associated with chainsaws, Guidry creates undulating, organic works he categorizes as “Modern Primitive.” So just what is the definition of “Modern Primitive” anyway? “My take on sculpture is inspired by nature and primitive styles, using modern tools,” says Guidry. From jaw rattling chainsaws to buzzing sanders, as well as chisels and mallets, each work displays the marks of the tools used to make them. But rather than detract, those striking cuts and burns accentuate the integrity of the wood in unexpected ways.
Each sculpted shape—it could be a leaping fish, curvy human figure or earthy reptile—seems to evolve from the wood, rather than being created by human hands.
It’s as if Guidry is merely revealing the inner secrets of each chunk of raw wood. “If you look at my work, there’s not a lot of straight lines,” he remarks. “I like organic forms. Even my pieces that incorporate welded metal have an organic feel.”
When shown a photo album of Guidry’s extensive output, you’ll find that sophisticated collectors, casual buyers and art lovers from ages three to 83 will have similar reactions: joy and wonder. “My work is so free form, there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” says Guidry. “Some like the more colorful shapes and patterns, which were perhaps inspired by the birth of my son, Gunnar, two years ago. Some like the more sophisticated subjects. Others are attracted to the many different varieties of the modern fishing lures I create. It’s a wide spectrum of work.”
Whether it’s the color, shapes or textures of Guidry’s work—or the sheer delight and inspiration that each piece can bring—this artist will definitely change the way you look at nature and chainsaws forever.