By A. Moret
Paul Gerben has a keen awareness of space, capable of sensing subtle nuance and energy to engage in a dialogue with his large-scale mixed media works. A native New Yorker, the multidisciplinary artist transforms interiors with textured elements that pay homage to urban collages found on the streets of his hometown, and pairs them with the immediately perceptible visages of icons who have left an indelible mark on the silhouettes of fashion, the symbology of art history and songwriters who have shaped the voices and visions of generations.
His body of sculptures belongs to a Series aptly titled “Circle of Love,” which experiments with material and contrast to accentuate the interconnectivity between each letter of the word “love.” The inherent linear articulation of the word as it appears in Gerben’s uppercase typography nests each letter inside the next, demonstrating its palpable kinetic energy that emits the desire to revolve forward in perpetuity.
Throughout our long-distance conversation, I discovered that Gerben’s artistic practice has long embraced the methodology intrinsic to creating work for the blockchain. Furthermore, his signature “love” design predicted the token symbol distinguishing crypto coins. On the occasion of his NFT debut, the artist presents a Genesis Series featuring three unique works and tenants built upon the principles for one to “LOVE,” “GIVE,” and “IMAGINE,” with each exploring the sculptural and figurative weight of words and scale.
Before realizing work on a large scale, every idea begins with a design or architectural file. The details of materials are deciphered through animations before the piece moves forward in the fabrication process. Digital art has long been at the crux of Gerben’s practice but it’s only with NFTs that he’s felt digital art receiving the credibility it has long deserved. “I love digital art for the fact that it’s always [helped] speed my productivity,” he expresses. I have been [creating] digital art for over 25 years and I must now have over 100,000 pieces, but it’s always been frowned upon in the traditional art space. Now that everything is going digital, it’s even more exciting for me,” he states enthusiastically.
“LOVE,” the first NFT of the “Circle of Love” sculptures, pairs sweeping cinematic angles with an original soundscape of orchestral strings that accentuates the scale of a Grecian figure holding the sphere of LOVE on his shoulders into a monumental form. Carefully working with stone, mirrored steel, and copper elements, Gerben replaces Atlas who holds the weight of the heavens or sky upon his shoulders with a universal figure that has endured the collective weight experienced during the pandemic.
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