You work explores the infinite possibilities of the optical experience through colour value, quality of light and unconventional shapes. What fascinates you about the way in which we perceive things ?
The most interesting aspect of the visual experience for me is its subjectivity.
Carlos Cruz-Diez once said in speaking about color, “it is not a certainty, but a circumstance,” which is right on. We each come from different backgrounds with different stories and perceptions about the world. This can be a hard concept to wrap your head around considering all the moving parts of a functioning society but, I think it also provides an interesting point of departure in my work. I’m careful not to be too definitive about the choices I make in terms of design and intent so as not to script the experience for the viewer.
Can you take us through a typical day in your art studio ?
I’m an early riser. A trait left over from my days when I used to teach so I’m up at 5 everyday, seven days a week. I get a workout in around 5:15. This is an important step for me. It wakes me up and brings a clarity to mind getting the day started energetically. Next, I tackle any administrative tasks needed, any writing or replying to emails and by 8 or 830 I’m in the studio. My studio is in a building behind my house so I have some flexibility to get out there earlier if I can. I’m prone to lose track of time while working but around 11:30/12 my dog Bene will position herself directly behind me to alert me it’s time to take a break for a walk and lunch. Soon thereafter the afternoon coffee is brewed, and I am back in the studio around 1 and work till around 3 at which point the kids start arriving home.
How do you approach the creation of a new piece
Without fail, there is always a feeling of excitement before beginning a new piece. So much potential that could go in any infinite number of directions. Even if I have an idea or a sketch that serves as a starting point, I know once I get started the result will be something else entirely. As a process oriented artist, it’s important to me to maintain some of the mystery.
Bringing a piece to life starts with establishing the form first. Using card stock paper and cardboard I’ll build mock-ups that are typically pretty small, around 4-5 inches. This is where the dimensions of the piece and the location of the bend will be decided. The next step is the fabrication where the paper mock-up is built out of wood and wood panels. I like to have 3-4 structures built, primed and hung up in the studio before beginning on a piece. This gives me an opportunity to see how they interact together as forms in space.
Once the first piece has its first coat, I’ll set it aside and move on to begin another until I have each surface worked with the first initial layer of paint. This allows me to look and study a piece on the periphery to see what is and is not working. Then I begin the rotation again going back to the first piece and adding a second layer of paint where I tweak sizes, shapes and colors.
Music plays an influential role in your artistic practice. Tell us more about this.
Music has played a major role in my life since I was 11 years old when I used my grandfathers acoustic guitar to teach myself how to play. I continued to play and perform in bands through high school and into my twenties. Simultaneously, I was drawing and painting, filling sketchbooks and developing as a visual artist. Each discipline taught me to trust my intuition, and love the process of creation with its accompanying flow state.
There are many parallels between the structures of the two disciplines. Each uses rhythm and composition as a foundation, harmony and discordance to emotionally sway the viewer, and can deliver surprises that make for memorable experiences.
Although music appreciation still plays an integral part in my visual art process, I don’t play as much today. However, I do get to enjoy it in a new way through my daughters both of whom play multiple instruments and perform regularly.
What was the best art exhibition you have ever visited ?
Years ago my wife and I made a trip to Chicago and visited the MCA where we saw Takashi Murakami’s, “The Octopus Eats It’s Own Leg”. This was a sprawling, immersive exhibit filled with enormous paintings, sculptures and installations that dazzled the mind and eye. I’ve always felt a kinship to Takashi because we both had similar beginnings with a fascination with the world of comics with their flash and color vibrancy still evident in our work today.
Who are the artists that inspire you ?
Where to begin with this one? I’d have to start with my grandmother and namesake who had an enormous impact on me.
Both of my grandparents were self-taught artists and practiced both traditional and fine art so I never recognized a distinction between the two. I could just as easily draw inspiration from Amish quilts and Bargello design as from Albers “Interaction of Color”.
My grandmothers ethos, which always resonated with me was, “I enjoy the pleasure of my own company.” This allowed me the freedom to disappear for hours in my sketchbook without fear of reprisal.
If I were to map out the inspirational visual artists linearly from adolescence to the present the list would read as follows. Marvel and DC comic illustrators, MC Escher, Bridget Riley, Salvador Dali, Alphonse Mucha, William Morris, Josef Albers, Victor Vasarely, Takashi Murakami, James Siena, Loie Hollowell, Jan Kalb, Maya Hayuk, Kelsey Brooks and, Sunny and Kai and Kehinde Wiley.
Click here to view available works by Gibbs Rounsavall.
Gibbs Rounsavall (b. 1975, Louisville) is a Kentucky based geometric abstract painter who was featured in Louisville Magazine’s, “13 Artists You Need to Know Now” issue. In 2019 he was awarded the Artist in Residence position at the Galt House Hotel, featured in USA Today. Rounsavall earned his BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and his MAT from the University of Louisville. His work can be found in public and private collections worldwide. Rounsavall values perceptual experiences over symbolism and context. These experiences are generated by a combined love of the visual arts and music. Alone, a colour is atonal. But within a composition, it can create steady rhythms, soaring harmonies and visual melodies. The artist’s affection for both disciplines coalesced into a minimalistic approach of mark making that promotes shifts in consciousness.