While contemporary art has always been Louis Carreon’s forte, from international exhibitions and iconic Los Angeles murals, to the graffiti roots that give his work undeniable grit, it’s his conversations with the classics over the last decade that inspired his most recent creation. After years in the Hollywood scene Carreon experienced his own tale of redemption and a powerful deep dive into spirituality, which gave rise to a narrative all his own. What began as personal exploration, naturally bled over into work; from heart to spirit, mind to canvas, Ryzantine style was born. Religious iconography is infused with modern touches, narratives, and trends, forming something unique, iconic. Though Carreon’s initial halo-work is at the root of this growing movement, his latest piece, aptly named David Reincarnated, is transcending the style. Having received high praise from a “holy trinity” of the art and theological community—Professors of Georgetown and Pepperdine Universities, the manuscript curator of the Getty Museum, and a practicing Reverend at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London—it has the potential to spark a subgenre of its own.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Carreon took his penchant for provocative social commentary and used it to fuel the fire that helped bring David into modern day. In the process he has immortalized his ideals and pop culture perspectives, while simultaneously capturing a pivotal moment in time. Reflective of movement-focused Baroque sculptures, his David like Bernini’s, is in-action, yet it's the 21st century relics that adorn him that speak volumes. From a Gloc that embodies street culture, the 2nd Amendment, and hints at a chaotic year, to a Rolex watch that’s a quintessential form of “fronting,” showing the illusionary status of our hustle-driven society, the juxtaposition between a classical base and gaudy accessories is not only thought-provoking, but emotion-stirring. Just as true art is meant to evoke reaction, David takes viewers on an existential mental ride during a point in history when self-reflection is arguably most needed. If the past year echoed a collective lesson it is perhaps, feed the soul, starve the ego, and Carreon’s colossal work inspires just that. Towering at 8-feet high and weighing 4,000 pounds, the marble work is undoubtedly impressive in stature, but the meaning behind it is what strikes a poignant chord.
Carreon’s David stands mid-action, in his soon-to-be triumphant fight against Goliath. Though the piece is modeled after Bernini’s iconic work, this specific point symbolizes not only an apex within the parable, but a turning point that can be both internalized against one’s own demons—which Carreon experienced in his life—or projected onto a macro-scale towards society’s issues. Clad with tokens of 2021 his David is influenced by street culture. Jonathan Evens, contributing writer at Artlyst and practicing reverend at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, notes that the sculpture is an example of Carreon’s dialogue with the greats. He brings up the contrast between the original piece and the new one, illustrating that this David “has an iPhone, a Glock, a Rolex, a skateboard, a Louis Vuitton duffle bag, a Hoorsenbuhs chain and Nike Air Max sneakers on his feet.” Just as Carreon turned to Bernini for the foundation of his vision, Bernini once looked to his predecessors—the revival pays homage and concomitantly reinvents the work for today’s audience. The dialogue that Evens points out is not only happening between the artist and his inspiration, but between the artist and the viewers—and pop culture. Rather than nudging viewers with subtlety, Carreon metaphorically screams out the current zeitgeist with the loud markers that define it.
Professor Ori Z Soltes of Georgetown University explains that the piece is “not only about the struggle against oppression, its specific defences include rap culture, materialism, hedonism, and idealism—and the question of who becomes a hero and a king in what contexts within our own world.” What makes the piece so effective is that this question goes beyond the dichotomies of today—from politics to economics—it touches anyone and everyone equally. With the highly anticipated statue set to be revealed by the end of the year, Carreon is bridging divides, while as Soltes notes, also connecting “past to present as it presses us toward questions of future.”