Mick Guzman—multi-talented artist and U.S. Navy veteran—has built a life around photography and his unique “Guzmanizmo” style. Guzman, an abstract expressionist, skillfully wields iPhone photography to capture compelling and thought-provoking imagery. Post-WWII, abstract expressionism photography emerged in NYC, reshaping art’s focus from Paris to New York and captivating globally. David and Cecile Shapiro define the movement as rebellious, anarchic, idiosyncratic, and often seen as nihilistic by some. Some view abstract expressionism as ‘all-over’ in appearance. Guzman channels this spirit, adeptly rendering his creative vision via iPhone.
Guzman always looks for that “abstract moment” in photography, particularly in music photography in which he specializes. “One of the hallmarks in abstract expressionism,” Guzman says, is to “elicit an emotional response, emotional being the key.” Guzman has always been an advocate for using the latest technology, even if it means using his iPhone. “The film camera is limited,” Guzman says. His iPhone 14, however, is more accessible, “the world is the way it is” and I just “copy what I see” with it. Guzman has been able to capture all that he wishes to render through his iPhone—recording all the beautiful tones and shades of his image skillfully through his personal device.
Guzman’s goal, however, is not just to capture a picture, but to elicit some kind of “effect.” Abstract expressionism, according to Guzman, is all about “broad strokes and colors” and rendering “abstract scenes of reality.” Textures and light are also features of abstract expressionism that photography can easily document. Salsa dance, which is Guzman’s specialty niche that has a certain texture and light when recorded, has this special “beat” and people have “started to resonate with this beat.” Capturing this kind of music abstractly through photographs becomes a great challenge for Mick, but also a great passion.
The dynamic nature and motion of salsa music, as challenging as it is to capture, easily coincide with the abstract expressionist style when rendered correctly. Using his iPhone, Guzman can capture and blow up an image much better, he claims, than a traditional camera—his secret weapon. Many believe, according to Guzman, discount iPhone photography, but he believes that it captures some of his best work. It is also easily accessible, “it levels out the playing field for a lot of people,” Guzman claims.
One of his works, The Crown, as he calls it, skillfully captures the raindrops on his car windshield. The abstract nature of the work wonderfully bends the light which shrouds the raindrops on the windshield. “It creates a very interesting bouquet effect,” with different ways of bending and refracting the light. Additionally, the Bauhaus movement was incredibly influential to Guzman and his photography work, which directly inspired his raindrops photograph—a style that captures different geometric shapes and forms. “I would have loved to hang out with them,” Guzman says. “I think I carry a little bit of it with me,” he claims. Some of his other works include Cuban music, which also serves as a great passion for Guzman—a genre and art he loves to capture with his camera. He believes their music has a real “energy.”
One photograph called Dandi Rodriguez, beautifully expresses the movement of legendary percussionist John “Dandi” Rodriguez swaying back and forth to the beat of the music. The colors truly pop on this image and the angle at which the saxophonist stands almost mimics a baroque angle as seen in seventeenth-century paintings. One can see the splatters of red and green emanate from the saxophonist as he moves. Reflection II also skillfully captures the spirit of abstract expressionism with splatters and gargles of color laid out in a reflection upon a pool of water that lies below a street sign and wall.
Yonkers Autumn I epitomizes abstract expressionism as light filters through a leaf on dirt, capturing its essence. Sunlight softly envelops the leaf, casting a cool autumn warmth, creating an inviting ambiance in this photographic piece. Decay spots on the leaf evoke an autumn’s ‘curtain call,’ hinting at winter’s imminent arrival after frigidness.
From Yonkers leaves to raindrops, Guzman captures abstract expressionism’s spirit using just his iPhone, showcasing masterful photography. His work echoes abstract expressionists and Bauhaus artists, exuding beauty akin to mid-twentieth century masterpieces. Guzman, a Renaissance figure, positions himself in art history, a reminder that iPhone snapshots hold profound beauty.