Two-dimensional asphalt slabs embedded with gold chains punctuate our cultural fascination with bling-as-power in the work of Luis Gispert. The starkness of the fresh turf brings to mind urban settlements and street culture while the gold links hint at coming up and prowess. The contrasting materials used to create minimalistic paintings simultaneously reference life and death in this new collection titled Aqua Regia, which opens tonight at OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles.
The Brooklyn-based Gispert is a painter and sculptor whose works pull from themes including hip-hop and youth culture. He often builds seemingly unrelated items into his sculptures in an effort to comprehend why certain objects strike emotions.
Aqua regia is a highly corrosive process used for refining the highest quality gold. The polychrome stone and metal chain works stand at about 5' by 6' and have rap-influenced titles like Dip Set, Black Boy George, and Gorillas in the Mist.
The Creators Project asked Gispert some questions about the symbols he employs:
The Creators Project: Your work seems to be dedicated to Americana and finding materials that symbolize experience, how did the chains project come about?
Luis Gispert: I invented the technique while playing with a 300-ton hydraulic press. Gold chains are mark-making tools used like paint or ink. The American experience can be defined as a struggle to find meaning in the material, before our bank accounts are vanquished.
Are there images or moments that have influenced the art?
Traversing an intersection near my Brooklyn studio, noticing detritus impressed into the asphalt by the weight of ceaseless traffic. Rick Ross’s bare sweaty chest moving in slow-motion through a club, swaying gold chains frozen by strobing lights.
Is this about life or about death?
The Odd Couple (1968) was a comedy about suicide.
These pieces seem easily palatable to many cultures and communities.
Gold: the grand equalizer, worshipped like a malevolent sun. We all eventually fall into abyss reduced to black and gold.
Hypeaholic II, Courtesy of the artist and OHWOW Gallery, Los Angeles