D. Lupe’s current solo exhibition is enigmatically titled “Things I Overheard the Void Say”. It suggests that there is something in nothingness and perhaps the absence of everything speaks just loud enough for those who yearn to listen.
There are seven paintings in the Co-Creative Center exhibit, but they pack a big punch. Six of the seven break free from the confines of square and rectangle and take on a variety of unexpected shapes, including old-fashioned televisions with bunny-eared antennae, an illuminated Nike sneaker, and a sci-fi assault rifle made of metal. bones and teeth.
Lupe (aka David Guadalupe, Jr.) leans heavily and unapologetically into pop culture for source material. But he long ago turned from fanboy to philosopher, as he fervently examines, organizes, dissects and deconstructs the pitfalls of pop entertainment and commercialism, giving it new possibilities and meaning.
“Irregular Programming l” recasts “The Simpsons”. Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie and Bart are depicted as a black family, all engaged with gadgets and electronics as they slouch on a version of the iconic couch.
Of “The Simpsons,” Lupe, who is of Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean ancestry, said he realized he was “summing up a moment” when he realized that the pop culture he admired and glorified so much did not necessarily admire or glorify him. , or people who looked like him. By changing the skin tone, Lupe abstracts from the familiar and challenges the viewer to ask why.
In a similar vein, with “Irregularly Scheduled Programming ll”, Lupe parodies a moment from the 1966 film “Batman” – itself already a parody – in which the Adam West version of the Caped Crusader tries to dislodge a great white from his leg. with an explosion of “Shark Repellent Bat-Spray”.
Lupe casts the protagonist as a cartoonish black boy, effectively creating a Saturday morning cartoon pop pastiche of “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and “Jabberjaw”.
In the early ’60s, there were no black superheroes to speak of. The Black Panther was introduced in an issue of “Fantastic Four” in 1966. It wasn’t until 1977 that the animated “Super-Friends” would gain their first black member: the electricity-wielding Black Vulcan, who joined Samurai. and Apache Chief, diversifying this previously all-white (and almost all-male) team of heroes. But I digress.
Pop culture is a pervasive, ever-evolving and never-changing great beast, encompassing film, television, fashion, literature, music, sports, technology, dime store politics and more. even more and which pervades all aspects of life. It ranges from the Virgin Mary to the Material Girl, from Beowulf to James Bond, and from Mount Olympus to the Magic Kingdom.
Lupe’s “The Pious” features a pair of hands clasped in prayer. Rosary beads hang below but no crucifix hangs. Instead, there are social media icons meaning “add a friend”, “message” and “love”, implying that online networking has supplanted the common faith of previous generations.
“MAG” is a large-scale, elaborate and exaggerated representation of a Nike sneaker, all bright. It works as a commentary on consumer pop culture and corporate greed.
In an artist statement, Lupe wrote, “When popular culture seemed almost more gospel than entertainment, we stood transfixed at the altar.” With her work, Lupe is something of a pop evangelist, the kind that surprises the Word of the Void. And nods to the congregation.
“Things I Overheard the Void Say” is on display at the Co-Creative Center, 137 Union St., New Bedford, through November 30.