Gisela Colon

Gisela Colon has developed a vocabulary of organic minimalism breathing lifelike qualities into reductive forms. Her sculptures transform with light and color, capturing, reflecting, and refracting the environment that surrounds them.


Video Transcript

I'm Gisela Colon and I'm an artist here in the brave new worlds exhibition and we're sitting amongst 12 of my pieces, two of which are floor pieces titled Monoliths and also 10 wall works, which I call generally pods and their walls, sculptures that have use of light as their medium, as well as the monoliths which have a very reflective surface. So the, the, the through line in all of the work that you see here in the exhibition is the concept of the mutable object, which are sculptures that interact with their environment, interact with the light, interact with people, the viewers, and have kind of that mutable, changeable, transformational quality that allows the viewer to interact with the work and view it from many different perspectives and open their horizons and broaden their mind.

And a lot of my work stems from an overall overarching idea, which is connecting with the energy of the earth, connecting with the energy of the planet. And so the sculptures embody a kind of a fluid energy that comes out to the viewer and you can access it and tap into it depending on, you know, your mood, your feeling, your ability to feel, your ability to think beyond what's material in front of you. So it's really transcending the material sculpture that looks towards looking beyond not only the energy of the earth but beyond the earth. So looking at the universe, you know, looking beyond our planetary system, looking at the cosmos in general, when you really think about it, the universe is ever expanding.

And this is a notion that is very vital to our own life because life is something that we haven't really figured out why we're here and what is, what is that spark that we have and what we can bring as humans as a whole, as a, as a human race, as a whole, to look beyond our immediate surroundings and discover that energy that's out there in the universe that's always growing and always moving and always transforming. And so my sculpture speaks to that general kind of larger, broader context about what's beyond us.

And I see us all as, um, together in this cause we're all on this planet and it's a small planet, a blue planet floating through space. And it's always in movement, just like our lives are always in movement. We're always in movement. And so it's that accessing that special energy that we all possess as humans and becoming one. So my view of art is that part of the function of art should be able to provide us with that, that special energy that allows us to look beyond what's in front of us. When I first started as an artist, I was a painter and I painted oil on wood and I found that the material was very limiting. And it was, you know, the traditional way that are all art always has been presented, which is in the form of a square or rectangle. And I started questioning that and saying, well, why does the form? I'd have to be that way.

And maybe I should select a different set of materials to be able to access a broader spectrum of color, a broader spectrum of light. Abrar, a broader, um, way of expressing ideas. And communicating to everybody. And so plastics allowed me to be completely free form. It was very liberating. It was the ability to take any shape that came into my mind, any form, any idea, and just make it reality.

So it was a material that was very malleable and very transformable and it allowed me to do that to move in many different directions. And in addition to plastics, I tapped into the use of aerospace materials. So the monoliths that you see here in the exhibition are engineered carbon fiber, which is a very durable material that you can use, um, you know, in, in outer space and airplanes and jets and all kinds of aerospace type vehicles that really has a very durable quality about it with temperatures.

And so it was a material that allowed me to also go into a very much larger scale and larger dimentionality than I was able to achieve with just the plastic material. So what you see as sort of a gradual progression of utilization of materials that allowed me to expand more and more my practice into objects that could communicate more my ideas.

One important thing about my practice is that I tried to create art that is democratic and that speaks to everyone. And so I believe in that sense that minimal art, abstract art can communicate to any sort of person. It doesn't matter whether they've studied are, whether they understand art. It should be a very visceral form of communication that anyone, anyone can access. And it can bring us all together as humans. And so I hope that this exhibition will be able to provide that to all of you. And so that you can feel what I feel when I am in the presence of these objects.

This installation is really special because it's the first installation that has allowed me to take the environment and integrate it much more fully into my presentation. So I took into consideration the architecture of the museum, particularly the surrounding walls, which are made out of lava rocks. And they have a very earthy and real presence that's material. And to integrate the art into this environment was really special. So that's why the walls aren't white. You know, we selected a very specific color of gray that reads from the earth that integrates tones of browns and other colors that are present in the surrounding structure, in the rocks and the concrete of the ceiling and the concrete of the wall so that it all kind of merges together and provides a symbiotic backdrop so that all of the works can be in relationship to the architecture and you can move fluidly through the space and really have an experience of the work that it's not limited to one object, but rather a collection of objects that become, it becomes a world unto itself. Hence the title brave new worlds because it's, it's intention is to provide you with a world of its own kind of my vision of what a world could be in the future.

Cause in the today, in Los Angeles, we're always in the present, but we're moving to the future, which is why I've always called la the city of the future because it allows you to have that energy of creativity and transformation. And so this installation is my expression of that idea of constant fluctuation and transformation and growth in our city and our world in southern California and in all of our universe together as humans. The forms of my artwork are based on what I call the classic Euclidean geometry.

So they start out as squares, ovals, ellipsis in the traditional sense, and then I hand torque the shapes to give it an asymmetrical quality so that a lot of the works, for example, if you pay attention, this square has become skewed and it has been pulled in different directions. The elliptical form has been torqued in a lopsided fashion so that you really get a gyrating motion in the work because one of the undercurrents of each one of the geometrical forms is that concept of motion. So the viewers in motion, the work is in motion through the changing in the light and the environment. And then in addition you have the morphing forms that gyrate inside of it. So you have a nucleus and then you have an outer perimeter. And then all of it is kind of in our interacting synergistically to create that sense of motion, movement, transformation change, which unites us all together as humans. Cause I say we're all in this together.

And one of the things that art can provide and tap into is that sense of unity and vitality that we all share as humans on this planet together. Process is a very detail oriented and lengthy process in which I lay or various acrylic materials and the layering contains air in between each strata. And so what you have is a blowing of the material. Then you have a trimming, routing, cutting of the material, then you have a glowing, but the end result is that you have a structure that allows the light and the movement to interact with that structure and then create that what I call special magic, which a lot of people want to know how I make it.

And, and I, and I would say that the magic really lies, and not necessarily understanding the process, but just feeling it and saying, what am I feeling in front of me? What am I looking at? And just enjoying the art for what the end result is, rather than focusing on the process.


Audio Transcript

Gisela Colon’s minimalism embodies a distinctive sculptural language that is inherently dialogic. Dualities abound, from the soft-focus glow of hard plastic materials, to surfaces that appear solid with interiors which seem liquid. Her monolithic forms are both primitive and futuristic, phallic and masculine, yet also feminine in their synergy and responsiveness to the surrounding environment. Imbuing her static objects with dynamic movement, Colon’s practice represents a philosophy of being: a metaphysical connection between material and immaterial, physical and spiritual. 


The legendary, sun-soaked qualities of Southern California, coupled with its centrality in experiments for the aerospace industry gave way to the emergence of the Light and Space Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. This network of artists was interested in reduced forms – similar to their Minimalist counterparts on the East Coast – but was more sensually invested in the phenomenal effects and perceptual interplay between artwork and viewer, as is Colon.