Liset Castillo: Pain is Universal but so is Hope

 Image: Liset Castillo, Pain Is Universal But So Is Hope (White), c-print on aluminum, 2007 /  ©Liset Castillo

 Image: Liset Castillo, Pain Is Universal But So Is Hope (White), c-print on aluminum, 2007 /  ©Liset Castillo

Press Release / September 7 - October 13, 2007

Black & White Gallery // Chelsea is very excited to present Pain Is Universal But So Is Hope by the Cuban artist Liset Castillo.

The exhibition, consisting of a new photographic series and a sculptural installation, documents the construction of a fictitious city, a utopian microcosm where particular aspects of different cultures converge and fuse in the universal experience of creation and destruction.

By focusing on the metaphoric use of materials, the belief in metamorphosis, and the relationship between action and its documentation, Castillo condenses the narrative into sculptural dimensions - using her signature sand - to extrapolate in space what she explores in time through sculptural articulation of historical landmarks separated by generations and geography but sharing a complex social narrative. The photographic series encapsulates eight sequences from a specific “state of change”, with each photograph documenting continual processes of decay, destruction and regeneration, all symbols of transformation. Each photograph also has a different background color - from white to the seven colors of the rainbow - bearing the insignia of that specific “state of change”.

As in her earlier photographic work, Castillo continues to infuse sand with metaphor in particular by creating sand sculptures and capturing them on film as symbols of the ephemeral nature of our existence. Castillo’s photographs are deceptive illusions. They exist as physiochemical, two-dimensional images reflecting a three dimensional “reality”. By laboriously constructing the photographed images, Castillo turns time back on itself; forcing viewers to first believe the illusion, then, as they understand its unrealistic nature, consider the nature and construction of truth and reality. 

Still photography is incapable of realistically rendering volume, weight, and the multi-dimensional nature of the world as perceived by the human eye. To fill this void, Castillo constructs Ecstasy, a three-dimensional rainbow constructed out of 400 laminated and fiberglass varnished wooden blocks. The rainbow forwards the artist’s belief that in both social and organic worlds there is calm after the storm and summarizes the essential theme of the exhibition: pain is universal but so is hope.

Concurrent with Pain Is Universal But So Is Hope at Black & White Gallery // Chelsea, Liset Castillo’s work will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art (August 31, 2007 – January 27, 2008), and at Museo del Barrio in El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files / The Selected Files (opens July 25, 2007). Earlier this year Liset Castillo’s solo exhibition took place at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside, CA.

Liset Castillo graduated from Higher Institute of Art, (ISA) Havana, Cuba (1998) and de Ateliers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2002). She is a recipient of several prestigious awards, such as Guggenheim Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, NY, Mondriaan Stichting, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Cintas Fellowship, Institute of International Education, New York, NY. Castilo’s work is in major private and public collections, such as Ellen & Jerome Stern Collection, New York, NY, West Collection, Philadelphia, PA, Progressive Art Collection, Cleveland, OH and others.