New York City, NY
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."
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website