GISELA COLON (American, b. 1966 Vancouver, Canada, raised 1967 San Juan, Puerto Rico) is a contemporary artist who has developed a practice of Organic Minimalism, an idiosyncratic sculptural language imbuing life-like qualities into reductive forms. Oscillating between masculine and feminine, primitive and futuristic, liquid and solid, fecund and phallic, inert and biological, Colon's objects possess a confluence of polarities that take the minimal object to a new frontier, a new world where the man-made becomes alive in a post-human ontological reality.
Colon approaches her sculptural practice from the expansive perspective of phenomenological concerns, addressing physical laws of the universe such as gravity, time, movement, energy and transformation. Colon's vocabulary of organic forms and humanized geometries, embody a feeling of energy, movement and growth, that stems in a broader sense from the artist's connection to the Earth, the vital energy that pervades all living organisms, and the extensive, infinite forces that rule the cosmological realm.
Colon’s oeuvre is the result of a synthesis of pointed historical reflection and pure visceral raw energy. Colon’s practice of Organic Minimalism simultaneously expands and challenges the legacies of Light and Space, Minimalism and Latin American Op and Kinetic Art, merging industrial inertness with transformative biological mutability. Her sensual, gender-ambiguous sculptural forms further connect her practice to a history of female artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, Linda Benglis and Judy Chicago. By channeling Bourgeois’ notions of sexualized energies and Chicago’s nascent feminist atmospheric works, Colon similarly posits her sculptures as vehicles for conversion of classic masculine forms into feminized power.
Colon’s merger of scientifically advanced technologies and materials with naturally-occurring in vita properties places her squarely in the current international discourse of contemporary sculpture. Contemporaries such as Olafur Eliasson, Alicja Kwade, Jose Davila, and other practitioners, alongside Colon, integrate the use of ubiquitous industrial materials of the Anthropocene era with the palpable tension of the laws of physics that pervade the invisible world around us.
Born to a German mother and Puerto Rican father, Colon was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico (since 1967), and attended University of Puerto Rico (BA 1987). She identifies an early influence of Latin American OpArt and Kinetic artists such as Jésus Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez. Colon's sculptural work continues a conversation with Latin American geometric modernism and the legacy of OpArt. In 2019, as part of that continuing dialogue, Colon's work was presented alongside the work of Carlos Cruz-Diez in Brussels, Belgium.
Colon moved from Puerto Rico to her adoptive home-city of Los Angeles to attend graduate school at Southwestern University (JD 1990). Her life in Los Angeles exposed her to the ideals and practices of the California Light and Space movement. Colon’s friendship with several of the artists of that movement, such as DeWain Valentine, Mary Corse, Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, etc., and the theories of Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Judy Chicago, and others, have influenced her sculptural practice, increasing her focus on issues of visual perception, materiality, and gender.
Colon also has been influenced by Minimalism, particularly the work of Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Agnes Martin, amongst others. Colon credits the writings of Donald Judd and frequent visits to Chinati, Marfa, Texas, and Judd’s 101 Spring Street studio, as important to the development of the theories underlying her practice.
GISELA COLON’s sculpture resides in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), San Diego, CA; Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; Grand Rapids Museum of Art (GRAM), Grand Rapids, MI; and the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO, amongst others. Colon’s work was recently on view in 2019 in the exhibition Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today, at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, and will be presented in important upcoming institutional exhibitions such as Perception Shift: New Approaches to Light, Color, and Space in Contemporary Art at the Mint Museum, North Carolina (2020); and the traveling exhibition Light, Space, Surface: Southern California Art From LACMA’s Collection at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN (2021), Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts (2021-2022), and The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida (2022). Colon lives and works in Los Angeles.