LUIS GISPERT/LOUD IMAGE
By Tejada, Roberto J.
Luis Gispert is a young contemporary artist born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and raised primarily in Miami. He trained first at Miami-Dade Community College and then at the Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University. Today Gispert lives and works in Brooklyn.
His earliest creative recognition was tied to his participation in a group of young South Florida-based artists who challenged the reigning paradigms of Latino/a representation in that region. Gispert's vividly colored photographs and booming sound sculptures have since been shown widely throughout the United States as well as in Europe, South America, and the Middle East.
The multimedia installation he created for the 2002 Whitney Biennial was one of the most critically acclaimed elements of that exhibition, and his work has become a virtual mainstay in recent surveys of contemporary art practices.Gispert's work cannily explores and confronts familiar aspects of youth culture, art history, hip-hop music, and, most recently, the artist's own Cuban American background.
LUIS GISPERT: ARTPACE
By Jennifer Jankauskas
Fantastical and surreal, Luis Gispert's photographic and video amalgams are visually rich explorations of cultural codes. Featuring eleven large-scale glossy photographs from two recent series and two looped videos, Gispert's exhibition at Artpace illustrates a concern with, and critique of, various urban subcultures in America today.
As a young Cuban-American, the artist brings an insider's perspective to an investigation of ethnic youth culture, exposing incipient ties to music, power and gangland activity by constructing modern tableaux based on the iconography of Western religious art, specifically, from the Baroque and Renaissance periods. Asserting that hip hop is the contemporary Baroque, Gispert adopts signifiers from that subculture to address societal views and investigate identity politics.
Utilizing what is a somewhat fetishized figure, the cheerleader, and removing her from her normal conditions, Gispert draws in tangential issues of sex, drugs and gang warfare in a slightly humorous and innocuous way. He poses young women in cheerleading outfits-primarily Latinas-against vivid, chroma-key green backgrounds in seemingly minimal compositions. On closer view, however, details emerge-gaudy gold jewelry, makeup and elaborate body positions (often set-ups with suspension wires)-substantiating an intricately layered underlying concept. These are not simple documentary photographs; instead, they are complex, composed arrangements that delve into the familiar and the unknown, the mainstream and the marginalized, to expose and address the various subcultures currently infiltrating the mainstream.
Gispert also attempts, while using the social leveler of a uniform (in this case short pleated skirts, short socks, gym shoes and V-necked sleeveless sweaters), to erase the sense of 'other" so pervasive in our society. Functioning as a critique of race relations and varying levels of marginalization, Gispert's work also addresses hip hop's trajectory from an African-American subculture adopted by Latinos, to its current place in the mainstream. The artist's inclusion of excessive bling bling and various gangland signifiers-guns, hand signals-is indicative of this crossover.