One to Watch

The Visual Communication of Gino Belassen

Gino Belassen’s paintings are a practice in minimalism. He has a background in design, a pursuit that informs his artistic practice in terms of composition, color, and thought process. He initially produced mixed media collages but has since transitioned to painting, a medium that he says allows him freedom of expression. Working with household paint, found materials, and resin, he plays with negative space and text to subtly communicate a message.

Gino is based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a BFA in graphic design from Chapman University in Orange, California. His works have been exhibited at The Other Art Fair in London and Melbourne, as well as at the Guggenheim Gallery and Elizabeth Gordon Gallery in California. He will present his works at the debut of The Other Art Fair Los Angeles from March 15-18.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

Communication. Whether it’s funny, witty, deep, dumb, or none of the above, it’s important to me that there’s substance beneath the surface. My process is driven by a deeply-rooted affinity with minimalism and abstraction; a process that I refer to as Subtle/Sound. A means of communicating a message subtly, rather than obviously.

How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?

My medium has evolved over time. I’ve found happiness working with household paints, found materials, and resin. I’m a self-taught painter and studied graphic design at Chapman University in California. I needed an escape from the tedious and technical nature of design—I sought something messy, something tangible. A place where I can march to the beat of my own drum, dance around and get my hands dirty.

How has your style and practice changed over the years?

By being constantly inspired and flexible. To me, it’s important to be multi-dimensional as a means of suppressing complacency + resisting predictability and maintaining happiness. My experience in graphic design greatly influences my artwork in terms of composition, color, and thought-process; design is what pushed me to create physical artwork in the first place. I started by creating mixed-media collages, but for a variety of reasons ditched it for painting. Creatively stifled, I was unable to fully express myself, nor communicate a message.

Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?

Depends. Sketches sometimes help, but they only get me so far. I keep a running list in my phone of words or phrases—typically song titles—that have the potential to inspire a concept. My process is raw and free; my mind jumps from idea-to-idea and my hand just follows.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

Music—it’s what truly inspires my work. Lyrics help guide a concept and most of my paintings are square to subliminally represent what could be album art. Recently, I created series of five paintings for DJ and music producer NGHTMRE that each represent a track on his EP, NGHTMRE Part II. I’m hoping there will be more projects like this in the near future.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

What you leave out is as important as what you leave in. As a minimalist, this saying truly resonated with me and has inspired my work—and even my lifestyle—in a great way.


About the Author

Jessica McQueen is Associate Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at