Bling with a cheeky ring in Luis Gispert's 'Aqua Regia' exhibition

Bling with a cheeky ring in Luis Gispert's 'Aqua Regia' exhibition
Luis Gispert, "Dip Set," 2015, mixed media (OHWOW Gallery)

Fourteen new works by Luis Gispert offer art as the high-end collector's design equivalent of a hip-hop artist's gold chains. There are plenty of different styles to flaunt and parade — Figaro, rope, curb, Byzantine, herringbone, bead and snake — each with intrinsic value inflated by context. All of them signify affiliation with a posse.

At Ohwow Gallery, the New Jersey-born, Miami-raised, Brooklyn-based artist shows an array of lengthy gold chains embedded in what appears to be thickly layered slabs of asphalt. (The heavy slabs are actually composed from small rocks painted or resin-coated in glistening black.) The chains are pressed into the blacktop, as if some hapless squirrel or armadillo squashed by a speeding car.


But this is not just any roadkill. Gispert's glittery, golden chain designs recall famous paintings.

A dense tangle is an obvious phrasing from a Pollock drip-painting. Thin, draped chains flowing down from the edges toward the bottom center suggest a Morris Louis. A chunky interlace of looping, lozenge-shaped forms traces the suggestive contours of a blue nude cutout by Matisse.

Luxury consumer goods gainsay social rebelliousness. Gispert has been mining this contradiction, which is shared by art culture and hip-hop culture, for more than a decade. Titled "Aqua Regia" after the acid mixture used to dissolve gold, this show of sleek, cheeky, stylish works concentrates the paradox.