Home Magazine Gaston Lisak’s artivism and his portraits of contemporary society

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In the inhomogeneous artistic scenarios of our time, an idea of political art, made up of concrete, courageous and visionary acts to imagine another present, has established itself with urgency. The protagonists are artists who prefer political commitment to the simple making of art, working in social and cultural contexts not contiguous, and acting within society, to promote debate and reflection on political and social issues. Despite his mixed feelings about the term artivism, Gaston Lisak explores today’s identity through the transformation of found objects to inspire the viewer to rediscover the beauty in daily things.

Art has always been a powerful means of expression, capable of making people dream, move, amaze, but most of all reflect. During the course of history  many were the movements born with the aim of criticising aspects of society, cultural beliefs and habits.

Figure 1. Gaston Lisak, Heinz, 2021. Courtesy of Casa Estudio Granados.

Pop art is one of them. Born in the 50s, the movement challenges the traditions of fine art by deconstructing imagery from popular and mass culture. It is characterised by recognisable icons, vibrant colours and the ironic and satirical aspect, all elements that can be found in Gaston Lisak artworks. Just like many other prominent artists, Gaston Lisak made of his art a statement about the moment we are living. As a conceptual artist based in Barcelona, what made him recognisable worldwide have been his ready-made sculptures, a union between nostalgic neoclassical figures and neon-coloured plastic vinyls.

Part of the Sacred Plastic series, those artworks can be anything from busts, statuettes and vintage souvenirs, objects he can connect with because of their ugliness, utility, weirdness, beauty or immortality, all sharing the bright and shiny vinyl coating. As the name itself says, plastic, the transparent divinity, is at the centre of everything with its ambivalence, on one hand fascinating, but hurtful and dangerous on the other. The purpose of Gaston’s visual experiment is to explore and criticise the way we interact with today’s materiality and consumerism. We are trapped in a plastic world, everything around us is asphyxiated by a shiny plastic layer compromising not just our planet and next generations’ safety, but also our identity. And all of this just for comfort. 

Figure 2. Gaston Lisak, Conquered - San Miguel, 2021. Courtesy of Casa Estudio Granados.

Using dematerialisation and rematerialisation, Gaston creates new narratives for people to experiment things differently, giving a new voice to objects that are still meaningful and capable of sharing stories about our society. As he believes, materials themselves can talk and the artist has to use them in the best way to convey messages. In his Normalisation series he expresses the loss of heritage and identity through ancient rugs made by hand, covered of white industrial paint. In this way he criticises the way everything today seems the same and the human ability to slowly destroy our context by applying the colour white that unifies, covers, forgets, and at the same time renews. 

Figure 3. Gaston Lisak, Headache, 2022. Courtesy of Casa Estudio Granados.

Through the connection of the old and the new, Lisak’s works become, in effect, portraits of contemporary society.

Cover Image: Gaston Lisak, Touch of Sky, 2022. Courtesy of Casa Estudio Granados.

Written by: Sofia Maurelli

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