Chicago, IL | October 27, 2017 - April 15, 2018
You're invited to the opening reception of Luis Tapia: Sculpture as Sanctuary on Friday, October 27, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm at the National Museum of Mexican Art.
For many, sanctuary can signify a holy place, a refuge, a ritual, a haven, or an oasis. It can also mean home, family, community, religion, and identity. The exhibition, "Luis Tapia: Sculpture as Sanctuary" engages and critiques contemporary global themes of Sanctuary and highlights the hand-carved masterworks by Luis Tapia (b.1950), a Chicano artist from Nuevo México.
Tapia and Tey Marianna Nunn, Ph.D. and curator from National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM, will be joining us for the evening for an artist talk and tour in the Torres Gallery. Plus, Tapia will be signing his book, Borderless: The Art of Luis Tapia.
RSVP for the opening reception here.
Long Beach, California | June 10 - September 3, 2017
Luis will unveil a powerful and timely repertoire of 25 new and recent works in a solo exhibition, Cada Mente es un Mundo (Every Mind is its Own World). Below is a selection of works included in the show, as well as overview of the show.
Both the Cada mente es un mundo exhibition and the book Borderless showcase Tapia’s compelling and challenging commentaries and perspectives on life in the barrio, on the border and beyond.
Dating from 2002 to 2017, the works in Cada mente es un mundo illuminate Tapia’s skillful transformation of a narrowly defined folk art tradition established in 17th-century New Mexico to a wholly contemporary expression with international presence and multicultural resonance. Tapia’s dynamic reinterpretation of the static figurative tradition of saint making at once honors and evolves the subject matter and techniques of his predecessors, breaking free of the aesthetic barriers that once pigeonholed his self-taught artistry as a “primitive” local craft.
"Tapia is famous for breaking away from stylistic confinement while maintaining cultural continuity,” says renowned art and cultural critic Lucy Lippard, another contributor to Borderless. “He has disrupted the expectations of his genre while creating an art responsive to its own times, a complex task acknowledging and exploring the contradictions of modern life, or la vida loca. He challenges viewers as he challenges himself, constantly abandoning his comfort zones for uneasy sites on various borderlines.”
Tapia blends historical characters and symbols with familiar figures and details from popular culture with profound, playful, or provocative visual effect. Set in vibrant spatial and conceptual environments, his meticulously carved and painted works range from updated representations of Catholic saints; to dramatic examinations of crime, pedophilia, and the Catholic Church; to sobering or humorous portrayals of everyday street figures. Layered in meaning and intended to be viewed in the round, the works leave viewers to consider their own feelings about religion and politics, or simply to laugh and be entertained.
In works by Tapia in the MOLAA exhibition, Jesús, or Chuy for short, is a displaced immigrant Mexican gardener who hauls the world around in a wheelbarrow. Juan Diego, the Indian peasant to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico in 1531, is a modern-day vato who is all tattoos and attitude. A polished figure of a Pachuco evokes the flash of the zoot suit heyday, while the blue gown of a sorrowful Madonna flashes hundreds of handwrought milagros—guns and gunshot victims, skulls and crossbones, drug paraphernalia and alcohol bottles, and other chilling icons of modern violence, addiction, and suffering. And in one of Tapia’s extraordinary life-sized “dashboard altars,” the artist honors his close friend, Magu, the late California icon of Chicano art and founding member of the Chicano collective Los Four. Here, the viewer sees Magu happily crossing a busy Hollywood Boulevard through the windshield of Tapia’s classic hand-carved ride.
“Luis Tapia's beautifully carved and painted wooden figures bridge a 400-year-old craft with reflections on present-day life,” says Cada mente es un mundo curator Edward Hayes of MOLAA. “His figures stand tall and look outward, yet simultaneously bear the weight of history and an unspoken penance. His subjects are imperfect, irreverent, pensive…and their gazes are penetrating.”
For information about the Cada mente es un mundo exhibition, contact Susan Golden at MOLAA at (562) 216-4117 or firstname.lastname@example.org