Inspired by the work of Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat and disturbed by the increase in gun-related violence, Charles Gitnick, a 15-year-old artist from Los Angeles with an impressive social media following, creates 3-D canvases in acrylic paint that throw colour and beauty into harsh contrast with dangerous gun replicas. Living in Woodland Hills, California with his parents, older brother and two dogs, Charles portrays life-threatening weapons in ways that make the viewer think of them as camouflaged and disappearing, or associates them in surprising and startling ways with images and colours of youth or purity.
In other works, he depicts weapons in a counter-intuitive pairing to spark the poignancy of his message. Although Charles fears the consequences of the misuse of weapons, he is not opposed to their use in self-defence, sport or police and military duty. “My feelings about guns are that they are scary and dangerous. When I make one of my pieces, I create a background and then I camouflage the gun to make it almost invisible. The gun is still there, but it’s hard to see it or you don’t see it for what it really is. Hopefully my art will get people talking about guns, gun safety and gun violence. I wish guns were only in an art gallery.”
Charles’ career started with a sidewalk sale in Venice Beach, California, where his first buyers were enamoured by his enthusiasm, gripping artwork and universal message. Charles has since sold more than 80 works to clients from all over the United States as well as Italy, Australia and Canada. In December 2013, Charles’ 3-D Gun Art exhibit in Miami triggered international recognition during Art Basel Miami. He has since staged a solo exhibition at Gallery Ina Dederer & Friends in 2015 and featured again in Art Basel Miami in 2016.