Gista’s bold acrylic paintings, mixed media paintings and works on paper are now on display at our Wicker Park gallery
When you walk into our Wicker Park art gallery, you are likely to be struck by how stunning it is. We broke from the tradition of the austere art gallery in every possible way. It is flooded with light, its ceiling’s high. Light bounces off the white walls and tin ceiling, and it illuminates the work in the vast space. You are also likely to be struck by the paintings of David Gista. We have 20 pieces in our collection— including acrylic paintings and framed works on paper.
His large-scale pieces take up much of the wall space when you first enter. These are the kind of bright, bold and layered images that stop people in their tracks– a visual equivalent to a record album scratching to a halt mid-song.
Within those pieces, there are recurring images that even the most casual observer will spot. Most obviously, there are books-– so many books. It’s dizzying to imagine how many hours David Gista must spend painting books. Gista said the stacks and stacks of books are due to growing up in a home filled with books of all kinds.
“It all comes from my childhood,” he said. “In my libraries, I am creating a mysterious atmosphere, questioning the origins of knowledge and the way we access it, questioning the truth and how we define it.”
Then there’s the other images that you’ll see as recurring. There are chairs, women in dresses, usually their backs. In one of our pieces there is a lemon that is wedged just so among a stack of books, almost as if the fruit was there first and a book tower formed around it. And there are the shoes, which closely resemble the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor style.
“I strongly believe that art is about obsessions, and mine are books, chairs, the back of people, lemons, shoes and stairs,” Gista said. “I keep using these subjects, often combining them in my artwork.”
The use of those recurring motifs leads to a signature to look. You generally know if you’re looking at a Gista. And if you don’t, you probably won’t be surprised when you find out you are.
“I have developed over the years a pretty recognizable style, made of the elements of my obsessions,” he said.
His influence goes beyond his childhood. Like any obsessed artist, Gista is always looking at art.
“Picturally my influences are diverse, from Greco-Roman paintings to Francis Bacon, Manet, Velasquez, Lucian Freud and many others,” he said. “I look at art all the time. It’s part of my artistic practice, discovery and curiosity.”
Other art forms inspire him as well. He draws inspiration from all kinds of music, different audio-visual materials and even radio.
“I guess that allows me to capture the mood of the time, and use it as one of the ingredients of my creative process. Intuitively I mix a variety of ideas and themes,” he said. “My goal is not to be didactic, but more playful and whimsical, to engage with viewers through a narrative and therefore ask questions that are beneath the surface.”
Chicago and Paris– the two cities Gista calls home– are quite different. This is not news, nor is it surprising. As an artist, Gista says both cities have treated him well, and their very different vibes don’t really impact what he paints or why he paints.
“There are differences between the two cities in the perception and the appreciation of art. In Paris, the public is more exacting and generally attracted by more challenging or conceptual artwork,” he said. “[In Chicago] anything a bit dark or political or using unusual mediums gets a more tepid reception.”
In spite of that, Gista said there is more of a freedom for artists in Chicago.
“Here, there is in many ways more openness to creativity and more respect for the freedom of the artist. There are two levels,” he said. “One is what the artist is able to create and explore. The other is how the artist will be considered critically and his/her ability to be successful.”
Spending so much time creating on two different continents, in two cities with very strong personalities, means Gista has a really good sense of how certain pieces will be received in each city.
“Works on paper are less appreciated in Chicago than in Paris, where there is a strong tradition around paper, editions and drawing,” he observed. “Part of it is because in Paris people live in smaller spaces and earn less money.”
“In Chicago, art is accessible to a wider range of people and it’s a normal purchase,” he continued. “In the French psyche, art is reserved to a certain class of people.”
Gista said his work is equally well received in Europe and the States, and his extensive CV is proof that he’s had a successful career. Among all those accomplishments, he’s most proud of the fact that he’s still going. As an artist, Gista said it’s easy to give and “let dreams get shut down by adversity.”
It’s not without its challenges though, this life he has chosen.
“You face a lot of prejudice and being taken seriously is a challenge,” he said. “Being an artist means existing and imposing yourself as a credible and valuable professional. It takes a lot of inner strength to be one.”
That said, he can’t imagine himself in any other profession.
“I have no regrets. It has taken a lot of work, a lot of determination and passion. I realize that I could not have done anything else. It’s really who I am and my life is my art and my art reflects my life in many ways,” he said. “It has been a very nourishing experience allowing me to grow as an individual and to encounter a wide range of interesting people, among them great artists.”
And of course, there’s something else he loves about being an artist. It’s a variation on the answer many artists give to the question: “What is the greatest reward of being an artist?”
“Probably to touch people in their heart and soul,” Gista said. “Seeing the public relating to your creations and being moved by it.”
We’re betting you’ll be one of those people who will relate to David Gista’s art. You can shop his work online, or to truly be moved by it the way he intends, make an appointment to view his work in the “Illuminate” Exhibit now, or bid in his work featured in our online auction.