Artist Zadik Zadikian has created a gallery and studio space where the floors and walls are covered in gold leaf, and much of his exhibited art is created with gold covering. To walk into the large loft space, in a building more than a hundred years old, is to enter an enchanted room that literally glows. Produce Haus, Zadikian’s recently opened gallery, glitters.
How the artist, born in Soviet Armenia, ended up in downtown Los Angeles, reads something like a fairy tale. Zadikian began creating art from the age of five, exhibiting as a teen in major contemporary art museums in Erevan and Moscow. One winter, after he swam across the Arax River, dodging bullets and guard dogs to escape Soviet control, Zadikian arrived in America. Initially working as the assistant to San Francisco-based artist Benjamino Bufano, Zadikian moved near New York, where he worked with sculptor Richard Serra. While there, he endured a devastating studio fire. From the ashes, he constructed his first gold space.
He covered his studio with industrial gold, and then created a project entitled, 1000 Bricks Gilded in 24 Karat Gold Leaf. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2009, Zadikian has embraced his new home, and has gilded his new work and project space. “Everything I have experienced in my life I’ve put into my work. I have arrived at a point where I am working with my nature, from my subconscious. I go to spaces unknown to me, hoping I can tap into something totally new as an experience and that this is true for everyone when they come and see the work,” Zadikian said.
The color gold, and its transformative aspects, is an intrinsic part of Zadikian’s art. Visiting Produce Haus, the viewer is engulfed in the soft light and the literal and figurative richness of the artist’s preferred medium. “The gold work started in 1975 in New York. I was attracted to the material for its warmth,” said Zadikian. “Gold is one of the most precious metals on earth, a very positive and noble material. It has a way of reflecting a kind of spirituality.
“I think from the very beginning I was attracted to its light, beautiful light that reflects like sunlight. I was covering entire spaces with it so I could envelope people with that clean, noble, beautiful light. That was very fresh and new to me.”
Zadikian has worked with gold off and on over the years. He returned to the medium in Los Angeles, in part because of the city itself. “Los Angeles light is incredible, the sunlight in my space is very interesting. With this light, gold came back to me naturally. It helps my work. Gold is able to show every detail, every crack and line in my sculptures, and I love to share that.”
His current sculpture series, Foreigners, was inspired by the light and the artist’s intention to become more in sync with nature. “Instead of controlling my forms, I pick up 50 to 100 pounds of clay, let it drop on the floor [and] use natural forces to make these pieces. I became a doer and observer at the same time with this process of dropping soft weight on the floor and rolling it until the shapes take on themselves. I then add a few little details, shaping the nose or lips, and then cast it in gold.”
This series of golden heads resembles alien angels or celestial plan- ets attached with powerful magnets to a deep, textured velvety black wall. Accompanying Foreigners is Zadikian’s powerful work, Solis, a massive gold-cast sculpture that springs from the golden floor like a rising sun.
Zadikian’s oeuvre is highly experiential: from his shimmering gold cast sculptures, to the gallery’s golden floors, to the east wall of his gallery space which is covered with fluttering gold leaf squares that alter to coppery purples and blue when affected by the elements. His second exhibition, Walls – A Quest for Immersive Space, also included fresco work by Kaloust Guedel and KuBO as well as vibrant, original paintings and photography from Rouzanna Berberian, Gary Brewer, Clayton Campbell, Corey Burns, Andy Moses, Gary Paller, Yvette Gellis and Marjan Vayghan.
Zadikian said he thrives working near other artists, and that some of his greatest insights have come through both active and passive collaboration. This collaborative process is one reason the artist started Produce Haus. Another reason is Zadikian’s belief in art as a resonant, light-filled, truthful language. “I hope that I am creating things that have some kind of universal truth, and that is my gift really, to everybody.”
Produce Haus is located at 1318 E 7th St., Los Angeles, California 90021