Q&A: Gemma Gene
When we first discovered Gemma Gené’s artworks, we thought, “Whoa, that’s awesome photography.” Then we looked closer and realized they aren’t photographs at all, but large-scale realistic paintings of metallic, shiny, and texturized objects.
The complexity and nature of her work completely blew us away. Whether it’s a metallic ballon heart, star or a hashtag or a shinny wrapping of iPhone or popsicle, we wanted to see more. We asked her a few questions about how she started these realistic paintings and what’s next for her.
Have you always been an artist?
I haven’t! Art came as a surprise 3 years ago. I went to school for Architecture and practiced as an architect before deciding I wanted to be an artist.
You have worked with several types of materials. Which one was the hardest and why?
I think the hardest material I’ve worked with is chrome. I tried to chrome sculptures myself because I am a big DIY person but nope it didn’t work at all, not even close. After the 6th or 7th time trying to chrome the same piece I realized it was better to outsource it.
You are most known for you Unapologetic Paintings and What They Say. How did you come up with these paintings? What are you trying to convey to them?
I came up with these in the most random way. One day I went home from work at the architecture’s office I was in. And I was tired and frustrated and I needed to clear my mind. I decided to do something that really relaxed me when I was in school: painting still lives. My architect side though that didn’t have a great artistic purpose or deep concept so I decided I would keep it a secret. It would be just a guilty pleasure that no one would ever see. So I looked around the apartment looking for something interesting to paint. I found a wine bottle wrapped in silver maylar paper that someone brought to our housewarming party. I painted it and I had so much fun. So much so that I realized there was value in it.
I unwrapped the bottle and use the paper to wrap some shoes and I started painting wrapped objects. Those paintings allowed to gain confidence in what I was doing and not listen to my architect side, or the person I thought I was supposed to be. That’s why they are unapologetic. The material draw me to the balloons.
I use the paper to wrap objects in a material that hides the object and reflects its surroundings.
What is your mantra? Do you have a quote or saying that you live or standby?
I really like a quote that I found in the intro of a play many years ago, I can’t remember what book it was. It says “qui no arrisca no te dret a alimentar esperança” which translates to something like “Those who dosn’t take risks are not entitled to bare hope”.
But most days I go by “you better work bitch” by Britney Spears, because I basically spend all my living hours working.
What’s next for you? Where is your art is going next? Any exhibition in the future?
I am showing at Swab Barcelona at the end of September with Mutt Colective. And later this year I have a solo show in November in Palm Beach at the Colony with Voltz Clary Gallery. And I am hoping to do a mural in Miami in December with the Bushwick Collective and another one in Manhattan some time this year with the Lisa Project. I am also very excited because I am making a piece in collaboration with Swarovski and Voltz Clarke Gallery that I can’t wait to start making.
Interview by Diane Lindquist