In 2007, the Museum of Modern Art exhibited a series of drawings by French post-Impressionist painter and draftsman Georges Seurat. Frank Gimpaya was taken by the painter’s 1882 rendering of The Veil. He was inspired to create a photographic tableau of this drawing as a means of instruction for the photography classes he taught at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Production took place in spring 2008. The setup design was simple: natural window light, grey seamless paper background, a fan, and a mask purchased years before in a Halloween shop in the Greenwich Village, NY. Originally conceived as a demonstration photograph, Gimpaya observed varied changes, both subtle and dramatic, as he worked. The one photograph turned into a series that questions the notion of identity, changing personas, assumptions of beauty, the nature of creativity, the ambiguity of photography, and the emotional projection from a half hidden face.
A. Eric Arctander, the late painter and professor at the School of Visual Arts, observed in a short essay of the series, "A mask does not hide an identity. It is an identity." He also added, "…Gimpaya's art speaks to a sublime, enigmatic, present time. Here we witness the strangeness of a not particularly reassuring world."
About the Artist
Frank Gimpaya holds a BFA from Hunter College (1965). Currently, he teaches painting and drawing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and photography at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City. In addition, he is responsible for the original design of Nueva Luz, a photographic journal published by En Foco, where he serves on the Board of Directors. However, it is as a fine arts photographer that Gimpaya has gained recognition as an artist who “paints with light.” Throughout his career, he has had exhibitions in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, and Europe, and his work has been reviewed in numerous prestigious publications, including The New York Times and The Village Voice.
His photographs are in the collection of Museet For Fotokunst in Odense, Denmark; and awards have included a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship (2002), the Pace/Promise Awards for Contributions in Arts Education (1992), and the CAPS Award from the New York State Council on the Arts (1977). Gimpaya's series, Mask, was exhibited at SMP Graphics (2009) and Look Art Gallery in October (2012). He was part of a group exhibition entitled, “The Rule of Law and the Right to be Human,” in Athens, Greece (2014) as well as a solo exhibition at The National Arts Club in New York (2015).
About En Foco
En Foco supports contemporary fine art and documentary photographers of color and diverse cultures, using photography as a platform to speak on behalf of issues related to cultural equity and access. En Foco provides its photographers, curators, critics, and cultural activists with a forum to advocate on behalf of an inclusive cultural policy that historically has been lacking in substance. En Foco supports its constituent artists with direct and indirect funding opportunities, professional development services, curated exhibitions, publications and networking events with industry and cultural leaders.