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David Gista is an artist and teacher, living and working in Evanston. We met at his studio in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center to talk about the group show he is curating, opening this weekend at 1100 Florence Ave, “Madness in the Method”. The show features eight adults from Gista’s class“Going Abstract” at the Evanston Art Center to include Lee Oberlander, Stacey Foisy, John Manning, Veronica Sax, David Gista, Susan Keats, Karen Williams, Gale West and Harvey Choldin. Opening party Friday, June 22, 5-9p. Gallery Hours: 6/23 1-6p, 6/24 1-5p
In this interview we cover Gista’s teaching techniques to include art camp at his home in France, the practice of sharing and showing creative work and the group dynamic of creative work in group dynamics.
David Gista was born and raised in Paris, and now divides his time between France and the United States, having established his artistic career on both continents. Gista studied art at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and so combines his classical fine arts training with his keen-eyed examination of modernity, creating a running commentary on contemporary life expressed in a variety of media.
Having graduated in 1990 with the equivalent of a Masters Degree, Gista won a prestigious award at the graduate show. By 1993, Gista was exhibiting his work in his first one-man show in Paris. Discovered in 1995 by the internationally recognized Darthea Speyer Gallery, who also represents Ed Paschke and Leon Golub, Gista’s professional career was established. In 1995 he also received one of the most important awards for emerging painters, the Prix de Vitry, the Prize of Vitry
(Named for Vitry-sur-seine, France). His career continued to flourish in France where he participated in a variety of solo and group shows.
During his initial visit to Chicago in 1996, Gista met Gary Marks, and in 1997 held his first one-man show in the United States at the Gary Marks Gallery, receiving generous press coverage in the Chicago media. Gista participated in a group exposition at Chicago’s Zolla-Lieberman Gallery, and exhibited his work in Hamburg, Germany, where he established strong connections, expanding his international representation.
Through the Darthea Speyer Gallery connection, Gista was invited by
Ed Pashke to serve as a guest speaker/lecturer at Northwestern University. Since then Gista has been chosen as one of twelve featured artists for Chicago Artist’s Month and has had solo exhibitions at The University Club of Chicago as well as The Union League Club of Chicago.
In 2001, Gista submitted a proposal to Accor, the parent company of the Hotel Sofitel, to create 274 large-sized digital paintings for their newest hotel built in downtown Chicago. The concept was accepted, and Gista worked for almost a year to complete the project in which he combined his drawing, painting, and photographic expertise with the use of digital technology. His work can be seen at the Hotel Sofitel Chicago Watertower.
In 2004, the Mornea Gallery of Evanston, Illinois held a one-man show of Gista’s work entitled “Presidents, etc.” Known for his “soul bags,” a form of painting on cloth that verges on sculpture, Gista displayed oversized bags featuring presidential candidates John Kerry and George Bush in recognition of the recent election. Other featured “soul bags” and paintings included former Presidents Clinton, Reagan, Washington, Jackson and Lincoln. Images were chosen for their powerful iconic resonance.
Gista followed “Presidents, etc.” with two one-man shows. The first, in October 2004, was held at The University of Illinois in Chicago and featured a variety of canvases. The second show, in November 2004, was held at the Galerie Friedland Rivault located in the Marais District of Paris, France. The show was entitled “Serie Noire,” and was inspired by film noir and the universe of fictional crime stories. In March of 2005, Gista was part of a group show called “Aparté”, which featured the work of several artists from Europe and Chicago, including Joan Miro and Zoran Music. The event was sponsored by Chicago’s ThinkART and Galerie Friedland Rivault.
“Aparté” was followed by a group show at Galerie Friedland Rivault entitled, “Silence on Rêve” in May of 2005. The work shown was inspired by the relationship between film and painting. In the summer of 2005, as part of Chicago Mayor Dailey’s effort to beautify the City of Chicago for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Gista designed, with the assistance of area high school students, a 22-foot by 7-foot mural of Chicago’s service industry workforce. The mural was painted on the floor of Terminal 2 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The multi-colored mural was painted in acrylic and the installation will remain during the reconstruction of the terminal.
In December of 2005, Gista was part of “Blue Show” at The Thomas Masters Gallery in Chicago, which featured 29 artists from around the world. In February of 2006, Gista was featured as part of a group show called “Go” at Galerie Friedland Rivault. November of 2006 brought Gista’s first one man show in the United States, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” at the Thomas Masters Gallery. The exhibition received a very enthusiastic response, and the following year Thomas Masters hosted a new one-man show of Gista’s work, “Chance Meeting,” which enjoyed the same kind of success.
Gista’s life and work have been featured on WTTW-TV’s Art Beat, WGN-TV’s Chicago’s Very Own with Jane Boal, a WBEZ-FM interview by Victoria Lautman, as well as articles in The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Reader, the Pioneer Press, and The Daily Northwestern. In France Gista was featured in Telerama by Laurent Boudier.
In 2006 Gista began to work with a blow torch. a dangerous process at the border of drawing and painting with a very strong conceptual resonance for the artist. “I started at a moment of my life where I was ‘burnt-out’, Gista says, “and I used that feeling literally in my work.” The resulting work was extremely well-received, and in June of 2008 was featured in “Flames and Flamenco,” a one-man show at the legendary Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago.
Gista maintains his global exposure and continues to be represented by the Thomas Masters Gallery and ThinkART in Chicago, the “Envie d’art” galleries in France, and the Cynthia Corbett Gallery in London. For the last two years his work has been shown in many international art fairs by several galleries. In the fall of 2008 Gista’s work was featured in two one-man shows at the Thomas Masters Gallery in Chicago and the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, as well as at The SLICK Art Fair in Paris, France.
Since 2009 Gista has regularly taken part in “Art Chicago” with the Thomas Masters Gallery and AAF/New York with the “Envie d’art” gallery of Paris. In December 2009 Gista opened his own art school and art gallery in Glencoe, Illinois, on Chicago’s North Shore. “The Art School & Gallery G” offered a variety of classes and workshops, and exhibited painting, photography, sculpture and prints by emerging artists and students.
In 2010 and 2011 Gista took part in several group shows, among them “Art at the Top” at the Empire State Building in New York City, an exhibition organized by the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, and “War and Peace” a show with a strong political accent for which he created a specific series of burnt drawings. The Illinois Library System invited Gista to have a one-man show at their Wheeling location in September, 2010, and Gista’s most recent one-man show was held at the Thomas Masters Gallery in April of 2011. Called “Stairways to Heaven,” the exhibit presented a series of new paintings dealing with the theme of stairs and people’s ascent and descent on them. This body of work represents a new turn in Gista’s technique with more textured and abstracted visuals, but always speaking to Gista’s favorite subjects: alienation and the human condition.
Since 2012 Gista organized painting workshops in the Loire Valley of France and has staged a mini retrospective of his work at his gallery in Glencoe. In October 2013 he exhibited his latest work at the Thomas Masters Gallery during a one-man show called “Mysterious islands.”
In March/April 2014 Galerie “Envie d’art” Paris organized, at the initiative of David Gista, a group-show titled “Biblioteques imaginaires”.
This exhibition featured works by artists interested in the themes of books and libraries, and featured some of Gista’s more recent pieces.
In 2015 Gista had several solo exhibitions, starting with the first edition of “Startup Art Fair ” in San Francisco, an event featuring artists with no gallery representation in the Bay Area and organized by art entrepreneurs, Steve Zavatero and Ray Beldner.
In June Gista had an exhibition at the Carla Milivinti Gallery in Blois, and at The “Museum of Mechanical Music Instruments” in Dollon, both located in the Loire Valley region of France.
Still in the Loire Valley, Gista created an exhibition with sculptor Francois Weil in the 12th Century Romanesque Saint-Etienne Church in Beaugency along the Loire River. This show will featured monumental pieces by the two artists.
Also in 2015, Gista co-founded the artist group “Babel.” The group is engaged in organizing exhibitions worldwide, allowing artists to encounter and network on a planetary scale. The inaugural show was held at the Vendome Castle (France) and the first event will took place at the Thomas Masters Gallery in Chicago. Future projects are planned in Quebec City, Oslo, Norway), Chile, Sweden etc.
In October 2015 the Thomas Masters Gallery (Chicago) presented a one man show of Gista’s library paintings: “ Rendez-vous yesterday”.
In August 2015 the first “Babel” exhibition took place in Chicago, at the Thomas Masters Gallery, exhibiting a panel of 10 artists from France and the US. The second exhibition of the group was in Chavignol, France at the “galerie Garnier-Delaporte”, in June 2016, with the work of nine artists.
In the fall of 2017, Gista will have two major one-man shows:
at the Vendome Museum in September and at the Thomas Masters Gallery in October.
He’ll also show his ceramics and drawings at the fine art jeweler boutique Laurent Potier in Vendome, France.
The Lisa D Show is a podcast celebrating and elevating creatives, featuring 20-minute, unedited conversations that mimic the live-radio vibe, purposefully low tech. Contact host Lisa Degliantoni at thelisadshow[at]gmail.com