Desire, Ostentation, Obsession: The Mixed Media Art of Elisa Insua

If you run a search for art out of recycled materials or trash, you will soon discover the work of Buenos Aires-based Elisa Insua (born 1990), who arranges objects of daily use – hair dryers, watches, pearl necklaces, computer hardware – into things like currency notes, maps, weapons, even food items. On her website, she states:

The transversal concept of my artwork is power, in its varied forms: money, fame, force. It shows ambition as a vital engine, but also as a fatal sin. My art reflects upon desire, ostentation, and the human obsession for become inmortalized as part of history. The sacred and the profane are united, counterposed and interwoven. Enrichment and material accumulation appear as biblical mandates, whereas gods become mere commodities.


Elisa Insua


“My work also draws elements from Pop Culture,” she continues, “branding, neon signs and the advertising aesthetic (the big, the bold, the explicit, the brightly coloured) are strong influences to me. I am inspired by the work of David Lachapelle, Mike Kelley and Jeff Koons. Films like Samsara and Baraka always blow my mind. Then there are elements from fashion (for example, the last collections of Balmain by Olivier Rousteing).”

Elisa’s art is not only about outward show. It is also an examination of contemporary commercial creeds. Her crowded presentations point to our consumerism. Her transformations of items from one form into another comment upon our tendency to constantly buy and sell, to exchange something for something else. “I have a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business,” says Elisa, “and the theoretical framework of most of my pieces come from this field: they’re about consumption, accumulation, capitalism, luxury and insatiability.”


Elisa at Work


Elisa had her first exhibition in 2011 at ArtEf Gallery in Buenos Aires. She received the Regina Pacis Prize for Emerging Artists in 2012, which was followed by recognition by the Municipality of San Isidro. At present, she is doing an art clinic with Fabiana Barreda and studying sculpture with Miguel Harte. Over the past few months, she has participated in several group shows and fairs. She has also created commissioned works for Google and Coca-Cola.

Links: Website ( | Facebook ( | Instagram (

Images used with permission.




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Darth Vader


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One Dollar


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To Die For