Inside the Mind of Charlie Gadeken

Inside the Mind of Charlie Gadeken

The work of Charlie Gadeken celebrates the hidden magic within everyday reality. Gadeken essentially creates his own fire, his own light and his own electricity. The end result of his work is something spiritual, and an almost elevated experience of life.

The work of Charlie Gadeken celebrates the hidden magic within everyday reality. Employing mixed metals and interactive, kinetic materials to create huge, sweeping lights and special effects, Gadeken essentially creates his own fire, his own light and his own electricity. The end result of his work is something spiritual, and an almost elevated experience of life.

For the “Nights by Absolut” series in Johannesburg, South Africa, Gadeken collaborated with Absolut to build an impressively massive cube in the middle of a field located an hour outside the city. Planted at a slight angle, the installation glowed with pyrotechnic effects triggered by the participants on the dance floor, seeming almost extraterrestrial—as if it came entirely from another world.

This type of out-of-this-world sculptural art isn’t surprising coming from Gaeken, a Burning Man Festival veteran who often contributes to the festival by implementing incredible interactive LED sculptures that transform the night sky with their epic lighting, and taking inspiration mostly from the natural processes across the world. Gadeken’s hearts, flowers and trees have brightened that festival in particular for years. These same sculptures have been commissioned and seen in other festivals and public spaces; notably, his sculpture for Aurora, Argentina—originally seen their 2011 Burning Man—existed in front of City Hall in Palo Alto for a year. The illuminated willow tree with copper leaves would chime as the wind hit, creating a beautiful, sparkling object that echoed the beautiful reality of nature, with a slight enhancement through Gadeken’s hand.

Gadeken is based out of the Bay Area of San Francisco where he serves as a founding member of artist cooperative The Flaming Lotus Girls, alongside his wife, Pouneh Mortazavi. Gadeken is also the founder of The BoxShop, a San Francisco-based community art and metal studio that houses forty-plus artists and specializes in custom fire-art for individual collectors.

Author: Hillary Sproul